PUBLIC transport operator Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) should be at the forefront in complementing government efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
Zupco is the only passenger transporter which was entrusted with the safety of commuters in urban areas, but it is failing to make sure that all passengers who board its buses adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures such as masking up and social distancing.
The country is currently under threat from a looming COVID-19 third wave, which is believed to be potentially more fatal and vicious than the other waves we have had.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in his recent virtual address, appealed to all Zimbabweans to strictly adhere to safety protocols in order to curb the spread of the virus.
Current developments where people are increasingly ignoring safety protocols like social distancing and wearing of face masks are worrisome and, of all institutions, we don’t expect Zupco as the leading public transporter to be among entities that fail to complement government efforts in the fight against the pandemic.
Zupco management should implement safety measures at all its ranks, beginning with their own staff, who require thorough training and orientation so that they will, in turn, implement the safety measures at all ranks.
Failure to adhere to a simple instruction such as observance of safety protocols will negatively impact government’s budget in terms of health expenditure.
I appeal to government to immediately order Zupco management to urgently take the following measures:
- Employ COVID-19 monitors at all Zupco ranks. These should be prepared to lead by example in terms of adherence to safety measures such as masking up, sanitisation and social distancing.
- Make passengers prior to boarding the buses adhere to safety measures and those unwilling to comply should not be allowed to board the buses.
- Have COVID-19 monitors on each and every bus and impose penalties for non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
- Avail more hotline numbers which are reachable 24/7 where passengers can report non-compliance. The numbers currently displayed on all Zupco buses are always busy and more numbers are required.
- Also police must stop all Zupco buses at checkpoints to monitor compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures. Besides police checkpoints, random checks to be initiated where the buses can be stopped anytime.
Action is urgently required. Let’s complement government efforts in implementing COVID-19 containment measures.