COMMUTERS from Robert Sinyoka in Bulawayo were yesterday stranded in town after public transporter Zupco withdrew its buses plying the route, citing “bad roads”.
Robert Sinyoka and Mazwi village are peri-urban settlements a few kilometres outside Bulawayo, just after Pumula South.
However, the roads in the area are in a terrible state following recent flash floods.
In the morning, commuters had been ferried by Zupco buses only to be informed later in the afternoon when they intended to return home after the 3pm cut-off time for essential service businesses to close shop that the coaches had with immediate effect stopped servicing the route.
With police calling on citizens to adhere to the current 6pm-to-6am curfew imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19, the stranded commuters were at great risk of falling foul of the regulations.
A commuter, Andrew Moyo who works for a pharmacy in the CBD, told the Daily News that he did not know how he was going to get home.
“I commute to work every day because l am an essential services worker. Now l am getting to the bus terminus to be told that there is no bus due to bad roads. As residents it’s not our responsibility to take care of the roads,” he said.
Stranded with a baby on her back, Nobuhle Ncube said she cannot afford to board private cars and pirate taxis as they were expensive.
“Private cars will take advantage and charge us $100 and l cannot afford that. I am stranded here and I am now fearing for my child’s health,” Ncube said.
Commuters said they relied on the Zupco buses because private cars avoid the route and those who do ferry passengers charge exorbitant fares, taking advantage of the situation.
There was also a high risk of being mugged as robbers operating pirate taxis were offering desperate commuters rides before robbing them along the way.
Zimbabwe Passengers Association general secretary, Paul Makiwa, said Zupco was supposed to give commuters notice before withdrawing their buses.
“They can’t just wake up and decide what they want. This is putting passengers’ lives in danger,” he said.
Makiwa also called on the responsible local authorities to fix the damaged roads so that Zupco and other transport operators are comfortable serving such routes as Robert Sinyoka.
“At the same time, it’s risky to drive through flooded areas. Council should address this as a matter of urgency,” he said.
Contacted for comment, Zupco southern division operations manager, Tineyi Rwasoka, asked the Daily News to send questions in writing.
“On this issue you have to come to the office or send your questions by email. I cannot comment on this right now,” he said.