The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporter
POLICE in Bulawayo have impounded 209 vehicles of which 121 are commuter omnibuses (kombis) and rounded 13 touts under “Operation no to pirate kombis, no to mshikashika.”
The operation which involves the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) and Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) came into effect two weeks ago and over the period kombis, buses, and private cars had been impounded.
In a press statement on Thursday, Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said they have arrested 209 public service vehicles of which 121 are commuter omnibuses (kombis) and the remaining being (mushikashika) operating motor vehicles and 13 touts have also been rounded up.
“Bulawayo province has noted that there has been an influx of non- Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) kombis, plateless vehicles, illegal pirate taxis (mushikashika) and increase of touts in the Central Business District (CBD) and Western Suburbs.
“As a way of enforcing, police in Bulawayo have arrested 209 public service vehicles of which 121 are commuter omnibuses (kombis) and the remaining being mushikashika operating motor vehicles. A total number of 13 touts have been arrested so far,” said Insp Ncube.
He also noted that these were defying the Road Traffic Act and Covid-19 regulations and such vehicles were banned to ferry passengers locally or plying the intercity.
Insp Ncube also said that these vehicles were a menace in the CBD and they park at undesignated points, while the for the touts police were not tolerating the unruly and wanton behaviour by these unscrupulous illegal operators who are hampering Government’s effort in winning the battle against Covid 19 pandemic.
He added: “Such touts call passengers to board vehicles at undesignated points at the same time harassing them.
Touts alert and help kombi drivers to flee away from the police. Therefore, if such touts are found they will be arrested and taken to court.”
Insp Ncube said on clearance of the vehicles the organisation was conducting a joint operation with other stakeholders who include BCC for checking of outstanding tickets, Zimra on checking whether the vehicles did the declarations and did not invade taxies and under declaration and Zinara was checking for the validity of licence plates.
He said those found on the wrong side of the law will face prosecution and owners of such vehicles will be charged for permitting the vehicle to operate whilebit is not affiliated to Zupco as per the requirements of Statutory Instrument 83/2020.
Insp Ncube urged owners of the vehicles to comply with the Government directives and stop playing the cat and mouse game with the police, as they were carrying out the constitutional mandate which is enforcing the laws and regulations.
“As police we say there is no selective application of law hence staff buses and vehicles ferrying school children not contracted under Zupco are not allowed to operate. The Road Motor Transport revealed that only Zupco contracted commuter omnibuses are allowed to be hired as staff buses or to ferry school children.
“Some of these commuter omnibuses are not even contracted by the companies or schools that they claim to be serving. This kind of operation is illegal as only those commuter omnibuses that are contracted to Zupco are allowed to operate,” added Insp Ncube.
In terms of boarding vehicles without number plates, he said members of the public are being warned from boarding such vehicles as most of them are used in cases of armed robberies, mugging, hit and run, therefore putting their lives at risk.
While, some mushikashika operators especially for Honda fits were said to be also deliberately removing number plates especially during the night to commit offences.
Police is on record warning passengers against boarding non Zupco kombies or buses at undesignated points as they face being arrested and also risked their lives as these vehicles go against road rules and signs for example going against one way and red robots fleeing away from the police.
Insp Ncube added: “More so, these kombies no longer have certificate of fitness hence they will putting passengers lives at risk as they no longer have passenger insurance hence posing to be a potential hazard to the public.”