Transport woes need urgent attention

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EDITOR — Reports and pictures of people crowding various public transport pick-up points trying to get home are cause for concern and demand serious action on the part of the govern-ment.

Numerous pictures of people waiting for transport and not observing social distancing have been published and yet authorities do not seem to care.

And on a very sad note, the crews of the few available Zupco buses have simply decided to ignore World Health Organisation (WHO) and government recommendations to sanitise passengers or do temperature checks.

That, coupled with the fact the buses are now carry passengers at full capacity, shows no one is paying attention to the needs of the general populace.

It does not make sense to fully adhere to WHO guidelines on Covid-19 at home or in the work place and then suddenly throw them out of the window when we need transport.

Most things just do not add up when looking at the transport woes people have to endure on a daily basis.

Now that schools have started to re-open, something surely has to give. The number of people who need and rely on public transport keeps rising and something needs to be done to cater for those crowds.

Many termini like the Simon Muzenda Charge Office, Market Square and Copacabana in Harare are usually over-crowded during the evening peak hour and this is not good in light of the deadly coronavirus.

There is urgent need for govern- ment to have a second look at its transport policy and allow more players to come in and assist Zupco under the strict supervision of the police.

Most of the operators who joined the Zupco franchise have actually become a law unto themselves, flagrantly ignoring government rules and showing no probity in offering their services.

This sector can easily become a problem child for the government if nothing is done and urgently.

As Zupco becomes overwhelmed, people opt to use any available alternative transport and often use crowded lorries and pick-ups — a dangerous option.

It does not make much sense if the country is faced with a devastating pandemic and yet does not take steps to make sure everyone is safe.

In some areas in Harare, Zupco drivers have taken the initiative to assist schoolchildren with transport first so they get to school on time.

This is a good initiative but it also means there are some people who are inconvenienced and get to work late.

Authorities in the transport sector and the Transport ministry must realise they have a critical role to play in the fight against Covid-19 and thus urgently need to come up with solutions that are in line with the country’s vision on the pandemic.

Chances are high that as these problems persist, people will start to relax more and forget we have a devastating virus wreaking havoc across the world.

Even though reports indicate Africa could have passed its peak on the pandemic, it has been regularly stated it is not time to relax as cases might suddenly increase.

It is my hope that the transport minister will take time to look into this matter and come up with the appropriate measures.

Government needs to act on this transport problem as a matter of urgency, especially with the fresh increase in cases of coronavirus the world over.

— Concerned.

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