Private passenger transporters welcome back, but…

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File Picture: Kombi

GOVERNMENT’S decision to revoke the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco)’s public transport monopoly and allow private players to return to the sector is most welcome. The stitch-in-time move is surely a big plus for our otherwise lethargic government.

However, the country’s transport sector is in a very bad state which requires government to quickly move in and instil some semblance of order because as it stands the return of private players on our roads means that if this sector is not regulated there will be more chaos.

Past experience has taught us that kombi crews had become a real nuisance on our roads, flouting road rules left, right and centre and they had become notorious for being downright uncouth on the roads. The kombi drivers and their conductors were not only rude to other road users, but were also known to be very rough to passengers.

We, therefore, call upon the government to activate to full alert the country’s traffic regulating authorities so that they rein in all public transport malcontents bent on turning our roads into traffic jungles.

Any public transporter without the requisite papers and whose vehicle is unfit to carry passengers should be pulled off the road immediately. In the past this has been an area of serious concern as those charged with enforcing traffic rules were found wanting and prone to being corrupted by kombi operators.

As long as any Tom, Dick and Harry is allowed to ply our roads, soon we will wish the government had not revoked the Zupco monopoly because there is every chance that given the current difficult economic situation in the country this sector will be invaded by all manner of ramshackle vehicles.

We appeal to local authorities in major urban areas to get their act together and properly plan traffic movement because the location of commuter omnibus terminuses, especially in Harare, is right in the middle of the city.

Their positioning naturally means during peak hours, there is serious congestion around the ranks which spreads to other areas across the city leading to nightmarish traffic logjams.

One way of avoiding this chaos is to block access to particular roads for private vehicles and let the roads be exclusively used by passenger transporters.

In Harare, crowded as it is already, the terminus along Rotten Row was a good idea, however its location is a bit lost in that commuters have to travel long distances to board transport from there.

We then wonder what is the politics around the huge open place opposite Rainbow Towers and next to the Harare Magistrates Courts? Can that whole place, currently being used by driving school companies to train learners, not be turned into a major rank just like Bulawayo’s Egodini?

Bulawayo can easily tame the traffic juggle and stop kombis from doing as they please if the city authorities confine passenger transporters to Egodini terminus.

But in Harare it is a different ball game altogether. The Harare City Council simply needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with a lasting solution to the problem of kombis which pick and drop passengers everywhere and anywhere across the already crowded city.