BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
GOVERNMENT’S ban on intercity travel as part of COVID-19 containment measures has plunged villagers in rural Matabeleland North in serious food shortages as they can no longer receive supplies from relatives in urban areas.
Buses plying city-to-urban routes often allow villagers access to food aid sent by relatives working in cities.
Villagers from various parts of Matabeleland North province expressed concern that the ban on intercity travel left them on the verge of starvation.
A Nkayi villager, James Msipha, said the current COVID-19 lockdown had seriously affected their livelihood as they could now hardly access basic goods.
“The banning of rural buses has brought more suffering and starvation in rural areas,” he said.
“We used to buy groceries from Bulawayo through pay forward with non-Zupco buses. The non-Zupco buses were friendly to us, they would charge us very low prices and, at some point, they would carry groceries from Bulawayo for free.
“These buses would help our struggling shops and hospitals as people from Bulawayo would send goods. Even shops would use them to transport their stocks.”
He added: “We are starving. We plead with the government to help us. We get our pills from Bulawayo and now we cannot travel because there are no buses or any other transport because of the current ban.”
Butho Ndlovu of Tsholotsho said the ban on intercity and long-distance travel had caused a nightmare for many villagers because most of them were dependent on food supplies from relatives in Bulawayo, Botswana and South Africa.
“The current ban on intercity and cross-border travel is suffocating us. We are starving and something must be done by authorities to help us,” Ndlovu said.
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