The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has condemned the government’s move to make private transport operators join the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) and called for adequate transport for workers who have resumed work.
In a statement, the Forum stated that transport challenges continue to plague community members commuting to work and back due to a shortage of ZUPCO buses. They noted, ‘Statutory Instrument (SI) 99 of 2020 Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment, and Treatment) National Lockdown (Amendment Order No. 5, 2020) stipulated that public buses are the only mode of public transport allowed. Omnibuses like Kombis and smaller taxis are still not permitted to operate. This has resulted in a critical shortage of transport for workers commuting to and from their respective places of employment. As a result, most employers have enlisted transport companies to ferry their employees to work and back, which is an additional cost on companies that are trying to resume operations’.
They added that coercing private operators to join ZUPCO was unfair, stating, ‘Private transport operators have been negatively affected by the pronouncement. According to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, July Moyo, private transport operators [who want] to be classified as official service providers have to register with [ZUPCO] so that they can operate during the lockdown period. However, coercing private transport operators to join [ZUPCO] is an unfair practice and private transport operators have seen the move as a hostile takeover of their businesses’.
The Forum also raised concerns about the increasing numbers of people defying the regulations of the national lockdown to pursue economic activities without observing physical distancing and using protective clothing across the country.
Photo source: Ethan Zuckerman