The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers reportedly own 50% of commuter omnibuses servicing Harare routes, Parliament heard yesterday.
This was revealed by the Greater Harare Association of Commuter Omnibus Operators (GHACO) which appeared before the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development chaired by Epworth MP Amos Midzi (Zanu PF).
GHACO chairman Cosmas Mbonjani said inasmuch as his association of 400 members had encountered problems where their drivers engaged in corrupt activities, there was too much graft by the police and Vehicle Inspection Department officials.
“There are many police officers who are now commuter omnibus operators and I can tell you that half of the commuter buses are owned by the police officers,” Mbonjani said.
“The problem we then experience is that some of them (traffic police) can be deployed to supervise routes where their own commuter buses operate and in such circumstances they give hell to our drivers and cause unnecessary delays to ensure their own vehicles benefit more from the business.”
The organisation’s secretary-general Ngoni Katsvairo said Parliament should assist by crafting laws to end corrupt practices and to come up with laws that ensured all commuter drivers possessed defensive driving licences, underwent medical fitness tests and were aged 25 and above.
According to GHACO, too many unregistered operators including foreigners from Pakistan and India were plying routes and evading taxes while their members were contributing to the fiscus.
They said it was such operators whose kombis were driven mostly by unlicensed young drivers who often fought running battles with police resulting in the smashing of windscreens.
Other problems they experienced were said to be limits of a radius of 150km and low fares.
“Due to the corruption at VID a lot of people who pass re-tests are inexperienced drivers who have paid bribes,” GHACO said.
Mbonjani said there was also duplication of roles by the Local Government ministry and Transport ministry whereby both charged them $100 (Local Government) and $75 (Transport) respectively to acquire a permit.
Highfield East MP Eric Murai said commuter omnibus operators must have proper books of accounts to make it easy to prove that the police had been taking bribes.
“Otherwise you might think it is the police who are taking your money when actually your drivers are taking it and lying that they had to pay bribes,” Murai said.
Chegutu West MP Dextor Nduna (Zanu PF) said the operators should also be accountable for the bad behaviour of their members whose nefarious activities included sexual abuse and crime in the commuter buses.