HUNDREDS of touts stationed in the central business district (CBD) have reportedly been hit hard and rendered jobless by the new parking system introduced by Harare City Council last week which saw commuter omnibuses confined to a municipality-managed holding bay along Coventry Road.
The NewsDay yesterday conducted a snap survey in the CBD and observed that the new system had decongested the city with most illegal ranks deserted, save for a few touts who were seen playing draughts games to while away time.
This came after council impounded over 100 kombis between Saturday and Tuesday for defying the directive to use the Coventry Road holding bay.
City spokesperson Leslie Gwindi yesterday said the new system would not be reversed and the impounded vehicles would only be released after 14 days.
Kombi operators were also believed to have hiked their fares from 50 cents to a dollar arguing that this was a way to keep them in business.
Listen to some touts and commuter omnibus passenger speak about the new ranking system here:
The touts, believed to be the architects of chaotic vehicular parking that had characterised Harare’s CBD, had become a law unto themselves, fighting running battles with council and police.
Observations by NewsDay yesterday were that most kombi operators were complying with the new parking rules with a few kombis released from the holding bay picking up passengers at the Market Square bus terminus.
Gwindi said athough there were pockets of resistance from other operators, the new system had proved to be a success.
“Others are not compliant as they had threatened, but our message is clear, it has to work,” Gwindi said.
“We have our law enforcement agents in place and the operators must conform. We will continue fine-tuning.
“That thing has to work and we intend to do it with commuter omnibuses from Chitungwiza and Mabvuku.”
Last week, Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said: “We need to reclaim our streets and make them trafficable again.
“Our bus ranks need to retain their decency and be user-friendly especially to our fashion-conscious young women who are harassed by touts who take advantage of the chaos caused by the congestion.”
Touts who spoke to NewsDay admitted that the system had rendered them jobless.
“We will fight for our survival. This is our source of livelihood and we cannot afford to starve. This will remain and we will continue to fight,” said a tout who declined to be named.