HARARE’s central business district yesterday resembled a war zone as municipal police and kombi crews fought running battles with the latter allegedly refusing to use the council-controlled holding bay located on the periphery of the CBD along Coventry Road.
For the past two weeks, council has been forcing kombi crews to stop picking up passengers at undesignated points and use the holding bay. The move is meant to decongest the city.
Shoppers and pedestrians were reduced to spectators as the dangerous clashes took place with kombi crews who included touts violently clashing with municipal police officers.
The touts had devised a new strategy where they would stand at strategic street corners and use their mobile phones to call their kombi drivers to drive into the CBD and pick up passengers at undesignated sites.
After a tip-off, plainclothes council officers were unleashed in the CBD and pounced on the touts.
Council spokesperson Leslie Gwindi was not immediately available for comment yesterday.
But commuters said they were the biggest losers in the council-kombi operators’ war as they were now forced to pay $1 for a trip which normally cost 5 rand.
“It’s been a disaster. We have to wait for 45 minutes to an hour [to get transport]. What is even worse is the fact that now we are paying $1 to go home. When we are coming from work all we want is to go home, we have families to cook for, children to help with their homework, but once again the government is now depriving us of our social lives,” said a commuter affected by the kombi wars.