‘Illegal kombis risking lives’
By Blessing Masakadza and Loyd Marare
PASSENGERS and pedestrians are risking their lives everyday due to the running battles between police and pirate
commuter omnibus operators in all urban centres across the country.
Ever since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March, the government banned all private commuter operators from ferrying passengers.
Only buses from Zupco and other private players under the same entity are permitted to operate. The new regulations state that private players must operate under the Zupco fleet but some rogue transporters
have remained defiant.
As a result, the ZRP has deployed officers on the street with a mandate to weed out these illegal commuter
However, it is not a straight forward exercise as the streets of major cities especially in Harare have been transformed into death traps.
On Thursday, a Harare woman was hit by a kombi fleeing from the police while picking up passengers along
This resulted in skirmishes between the police and the public which ended with one officer at the receiving end of
an angry mob.
One pirate kombi driver told the Daily News on Sunday that even though they remain banned from the roads, they are still finding their way into the CBD after paying a bribe at roadblocks.
“We normally pay US$2 to the traffic police, who permit us to load passengers here, and so we intend to yield our profits from that incentive,” the kombi drivers, who preferred anonymity, said.
Another kombi driver said: “The streets are our home and we have nowhere to go.”
Meanwhile the police have said “… the ZRP is equally concerned about rowdy commuter omnibus drivers’ conduct which has become militant and dangerous to other road users and police officers enforcing laws of the land,” national police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said.
Several kombis are operating without number plates and windows have been replaced with boards.
Some have covered windows and the windshields with wire mesh and metal screens in a bid to avoid the
police from breaking glasses with batons and in the process risking lives in case of emergencies.
“Some have removed number plates to avoid detection. Upon seeing police officers coming to arrest them, they
speed off and, in the process, endanger the lives of pedestrians and other motorists.
“The public is implored not to board kombis or other vehicles not displaying number plates as they risk being killed
or injured as unruly drivers will be running away or speeding off to evade arrest,” the police said.
Nyathi told the Daily News on Sunday that they are concerned about the conduct of drivers which has become
militant toward cops saying the law will take its course.
Last week, a police officer was hit by a lorry which was picking up passengers along Simon Muzenda Street and
died before the driver fled from the scene. The police are also urging their members to desist from
conduct that endangers public lives