Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
- Council in slumber as bus crews take over streets, disrupt traffic
- Drunken rowdy touts, vendors block pavements, suffocate business
BUSINESS has slammed Bulawayo City Council (BCC) for failing to decisively deal with buses that continue to illegally use parking bays in the city centre as pick-up and drop-off points, saying this disrupts the smooth running of their enterprises.
The illegal activities have been going on for some time with BCC turning a blind eye.
Cross border buses have invaded Bulawayo city centre picking up and dropping off passengers in unauthorised areas.
The bus operators have occupied areas along Fife Street between Leopold Takawira Avenue and 6th Avenue, just a stone’s throw away from Bulawayo Central Police Station.
Four buses were yesterday lined up along Fife Street while touting for passengers, creating chaotic scenes.
Intercity buses have also created an illegal rank along Leopold Takawira Extension opposite Centenary Park. Council seems to have given up on dealing with the bus operators, who are causing mayhem in the city centre.
Pirate taxis operators have also invaded various parts of the city. Despite routine joint operations between BCC and police, the situation remains the same.
What is of major concern is that the illegal activities by bus operators have also attracted vendors who have literally camped outside business premises.
Established businesses said what is worrying them is that some of the vendors sell products which they will be offering in their shops.
Even touts have also invaded the illegal bus ranks causing noise pollution while some of them can be seen drinking alcohol in public spaces.
Association for Business Zimbabwe chief executive officer, Mr Victor Nyoni said illegal activities by bus crews are costing their businesses.
“What we want is an orderly environment, particularly in areas where we are operating from, especially in the city centre. We don’t expect buses to be picking up and dropping off passengers in front of office spaces,” he said.
“The picking up and dropping off passengers is creating chaotic scenes and unnecessary crowding outside business premises which is not conducive for business.”
Mr Nyoni added: “Imagine while in a serious boardroom meeting you hear some touts shouting. This is the kind of disorderliness that is disrupting our business operations.”
He said the presence of bus crews within the city centre also creates a security threat for businesses.
“As businesses, we have to enhance security in our premises due to the threat posed by people crowding outside our office spaces. Even some of our clients are being robbed as they try to navigate through crowded streets to access business offices,” said Mr Nyoni.
“The bus crews are also creating congestion in the city. This may result in some people missing their scheduled meetings due to unnecessary congestion in the city centre.”
Mr Nyoni called on the local authority to enforce its by-laws.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Matabeleland North chairperson Mr Mackenzie Dongo said the disorder caused by bus operators makes Bulawayo unattractive for investment.
Mr Dongo said the standards of the city are declining due to failure by rogue elements to adhere to city by-laws.
“We are supposed to be moving towards a smart city, but this cannot happen when we turn every part of the city into a Renkini. Properties are being devalued due to the operations of the undesignated bus operators,” he said.
“There is a lot of pollution in the city centre. Some of the customers do not want to be associated with such lawlessness and they end up shunning our shops.”
Mr Dongo said due to the presence of the illegal bus pick up points has led to an increase in littering and pollution in the city.
BCC corporate communications manager Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said council is aware of the illegal operations and is devising strategies to address the situation.
“Most of these buses are operating illegally and we are engaging different stakeholders including police to assist us dealing with the situation,” she said.
Former councillor, Alderman David Ndlovu said the city’s illegal parking problem is worsened by the delays in rehabilitation of Egodini Mall and Taxi Rank.
“There is a general lack of planning on the part of the council. They closed Egodini without providing an alternative ranking area. We now have buses parking everywhere and if you check in the evening, you will find buses plying the Bulawayo-Harare route anywhere,” he said.
Article Source: The Chronicle