Kombi wars rock Bulawayo

THOUSANDS of commuters in Bulawayo were left stranded yesterday morning when pirate taxi drivers ran amok and fought running battles with members of the Bulawayo United Transporters’ Association (Bupta), over city routes.


Bupta administration director Albert Ncube said tempers flared when over 60 suspected pirate taxi drivers deflated tyres of a Bupta-branded kombi and allegedly blocked Burnside Road, demanding that they be allowed to ferry passengers.

“We received a call in the morning when pirate vehicles drivers punctured the tyres of one of our vehicles, they were all over the junction with headlights on and boots open and carrying boulders threatening to bring business to a standstill. They only drove off when the police came to rescue the situation. Only three were captured after they ran out of fuel,” he said.
“Pirate vehicles have taken over our routes. They are everywhere. They took over Matopos Road, as it is there are over 200 such vehicles plying this route. We are operating within the confines of the law because we have licences that allow us to conduct our business on this route. Pirate taxis want to take over our business and be allowed to operate freely, but they do not have red number plates, defensive driving licenses or permits that allow them to do so.”

Ncube called on the government to introduce stiffer penalties for illegal taxi drivers.

“We are being driven out of business. On this road [Burnside], there are about 70 Honda Fit vehicles pirating here and there are only 25 registered kombis. The government must come up with penalties to bring an end to this. The spot fines they pay on the roads ($10) is nothing because they can pay that and get back on the road.”

Mayor Martin Moyo said the move by pirate taxi drivers was illegal, as they were not authorised to run public transport business.

“We are moving towards a system of decongesting our roads, we want to have large vehicles only operating as public transport, and we are talking buses, trains and so on. We are doing this as a response mechanism to climatic conditions. The fewer the vehicles on our roads, the less the emission of gasses that destroy the ozone layer.”

He said pirate taxis are notorious for overloading and operating without licences, putting the lives of passengers in danger.

“The law must descend heavily on them because efforts to solve this problem amicably have clearly fallen on deaf ears.


  1. The problem is that most of these unregistered pirate Taxis belongs to the police members so tingavadii,we pay a lot of money registering a commuter omnibus and a lot of papers are required yet these people operate without even number plates nor birth certificates.

    1. Tired Senior Cop

      You can not get a route authority at BCC unless you fork out a lot of money. These so called Pirate taxes do not have, i personally would suggest that the City Council Police together with ZRP must mount roadblocks and clamp all these vehicles without papers, up and above a stiffer penalty be introduced to deter would be pirate taxes. Those belonging to police Officers, the ownwers must be fired from service. We can’t allow this lawlessness to continue in this new dispensation. 6Th Ave is another place that needs urgent attention of the police.

  2. A huge menace on the road they are and no one bothers to stop them. I have seen police getting out of these pirate taxis and standing by the side of the road while one of them will be stopping in illegal places right next to them and nothing is done!
    Unfortunatly the standard of driving of regular ‘kombis’ and where they pick up and drop off is also very poor

  3. Don’t just beat about the bush. There is no employment. If they do not engage in such, with families behind them, they will only be theaves

  4. Lets fix employment oppoturnities first.

  5. Truth be said, HONDA FITS are more convenient than COMBIS. Its high time COMBIS change with the times and become more convenient. Go to Egodini, you sit close to an hour inside the combi waiting for it to be full and go. but with honda fits, in 20 minutes you will be at home.

    1. concerned citizen

      true that !!!

  6. Bring Back a Zupco

    There should be heavy fines for people who use these illegal means too. Then there will be a shortage of customers and it may die an natural death. Of course costs of running a proper service should be lowered and the regularity and safety must be improved

    1. concerned citizen

      the problem is that people dont get it times have changed , who will wait for a 5pm Zupco bus when they knock off at 2pm ?

  7. pirate taxis just like vendors and all other informal/illegal business are a result of the prevailing socio-economic challenges. one needs to put food at the table in a situation where chances of employment are next to zero

    1. concerned citizen

      yeyeni Batayi benzani lababantu

      its not by choice that Honda fits have taken over these routes ; Kombis failed to deliver the service . Kombis delay people , at the same time they done reach certain areas . Newtonwest goes deep along Oregon but kombis used to make a U turn at the roundabout , just to mention one area .


      1. honestly kombi guys do not have customer care. they treat us as nothing as soon as they take our monies. Actually the kombi employees should focus on learning from the small car drivers how to treat well ama customers and also smartness because soon or latter those few customers who are left loyal to them wl also join those who have for the pirate taxis.

  8. Amashona awasuke kobulawayo yiwona asimoshelayo shot..

  9. It’s all about employment shortage in the country. Don’t be selfish please, everyone wants to survive like you. Otherwise offer the best service possible for commuters to run to your combination.

  10. Lord forbid what happened to ZUPCO it was probably messed up so the big fish could put their kombis on the road

  11. To be honest,kombis have failed us. No customer care

  12. Lieutenant Colonel Sbhamu

    Comment…in as much as illegality can’t be praised, I think its high time the stakeholders come together and get down to the strategic solution of this problem, considering issues such as unemployment, reducing red tape, corruption and convenience.

  13. Change is imminent the days of Zupco ,Kombis and Metered taxis are over.Technology is a game changer. Uber is gona make it even worse than pirate taxis instead of fighting they must embrace change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.