OPINION: Illegal kombis in the city centre will render Egodini Terminus underutilised

11 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
OPINION: Illegal kombis in the city centre will render Egodini Terminus underutilised The newly-opened Egodini Bus Terminus

THE eight-year wait for the reopening of the Egodini Terminus (Basch Street) in Bulawayo came to an end last Monday, amid excitement and expectations that the congestion of commuter omnibuses and vendors in the city centre will now be a thing of the past.

However, what was observed last week was a hesitant approach from transport operators and vendors to move into the new site, according to their representatives. This saw continued congestion of commuter omnibuses in the city centre, a phenomenon that was supposed to have been eradicated by the reopening of the refurbished commuter omnibus rank.

The fact of the matter is that vendors will not move to Egodini as long as commuter omnibuses are not fully using the facility. Vendors operate where there is a market for their products, and they would not want to move into a space where there are a handful of potential customers.

In addition, the reason why few vendors were keen on utilising the facility was because of the charges, which are pegged at US$90 a month, which vendors want to be reduced. Bulawayo Upcoming Traders Association (Bupta) chairman, Mr Vincent Donga told our sister paper, Chronicle that the major bone of contention for their members bordered around the “steep fees” and the operating conditions which, once violated may lead to their members losing wares.

“We are yet to reach an agreement with the contractor regarding the issue of fees, we believe they are just too stiff for us. Before one moves in, they are required to pay US$90 to the contractor per month, a once-off US$20 said to be an administration fee, and another US$23 to the City Council as licence fees, which brings to a total of US$133,” said Mr Donga.

He said according to the proposal, if one fails to pay the US$90 monthly fee by the first of each month, there is a fine of US$5.

“We feel the monthly fees and conditions are draconian and must be reviewed to acceptable levels. It’s not easy to make the money they are asking for because of the proliferation of illegal vendors in the city centre,” said Mr Donga.

An association representing some commuter omnibuses, Tshova Mubaiwa, said calls for people to move to Egodini were being hindered by the continued use of illegal pick-up points in the city centre, mainly by unregistered kombis. 

“The campaigns are slow and further affected by the free operation of illegal kombis which are not registered, police and the city council must take action about this,” said Mr Ndaba Mabunda, the marketing director of the oldest kombi association in Bulawayo.

While Bulawayo Mayor Councillor David Coltart said there were “teething problems” associated with full utilisation of the new facility hence some players were yet to move in, we believe there is a need for further engagements by all stakeholders so that the facility serves its purpose. About 400 vendors were expected to move into the place last week, with a further 800 moving in at different intervals, but that will not happen as long as there are some kombis that are not utilising the facility.

If kombis continue using illegal pick-up points in the city centre, vendors will also stay put in their illegal vending stalls, thereby rendering the whole exercise of refurbishing the terminus a waste of time and resources. It is therefore important that police and city council use the law at their disposal to force kombis and vendors to move into Egodini, and ensure that the city centre is not congested anymore.

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