Hundreds of commuters were on Monday left stranded after commuter omnibus operators plying the Norton-Harare route withdrew their services, protesting against what they termed harassment and extortion by traffic police.
The drivers claimed they were losing in excess of $50 per day in bribes to police officers.
By midday, desperate commuters in Norton could be seen milling around the town’s pick-up points while others opted to return home.
“I have been here since early morning and now it looks like I will just have to go back home because there is no transport,” said one commuter, Isaac Makwara.
The drivers parked their vehicles in Katanga high-density suburb and said they would not return to work until their grievances were addressed.
“We are not against police roadblocks,” said a driver who indentified himself as Langton Changata.
“But we just want fairness. They should not just issue us with tickets without explaining to us the offences we would have committed.”
Another driver, Jairos Butu, said it was unfortunate that they had inconvenienced their clients but their hands were tied.
“We just want to do our work and ensure that our customers employed in Harare get to their workplaces, but with what the police are doing, we just can’t continue,” he said.
The drivers claimed there were up to five roadblocks on the 40km stretch, with police demanding bribes at each of them.
Another driver urged Anti-Corruption Commission officials to carry out an undercover operation and establish the gravity of the alleged graft.
National traffic police spokesperson Inspector Tigere Chigome yesterday said he was not aware of the operators’ grievances.
“We don’t even know about it. You’re actually the one telling us about it,” he said.
“But if it’s anything to do with them, then you have to talk to the operators,” he said.