BULAWAYO – Private commuter omnibus operators across the country have welcomed a government decision to allow them back on the road following their ban during the height of the Covid-19 menace 2020.
The unpopular ban was decreed by Zimbabwean authorities ostensibly to curb the spread of the virus.
Speaking in separate interviews with ZimLive Thursday, Greater Harare Association of Commuter Omnibuses (GHACO) chairman, Ngoni Katsvairo urged the government to recognise associations as important players in instilling order in the transport sector.
“We’re very grateful to the government for the official lifting of the ban although we had already gotten a reprieve from His Excellency’s 7 May public statement on opening up public transport.
“We hope that going forward, associations will be empowered to put more order in the sector,” he said.
Katsvairo said the ban had led to the proliferation of unsafe and illegal transporters.
“The ban had opened up avenues for Mishika shika and we now look forward to working together with the government to enforce and ensure the illegal operators are stopped from taking business from those who comply with government laws,” he said.
Tshova Mubaiwa Transport Cooperation marketing director Ndabazazo Mabunda said private commuter omnibus operations were highly affected by the ban, as they were forced to operate under the less productive Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) franchise.
“We really appreciate the government’s move to lift the ban. We have been going through a tough time but there was no one we could blame because we appreciate that Covid-19 affected a lot of people.
“Now that all is normalising, we are starting our operations from ground zero and we want to work tirelessly to make up for the lost time,” he said.
Government issued Statutory Instrument (SI) 213A of 2022 whose effect was to lift the ban on commuter transport, popularly known as kombis, with immediate effect.
“Transport services, whether intra city or intercity, for the carriage of passengers shall no longer be restricted to the transport services mentioned in section 4(2) of the Public Health (Covid 19 Prevention, Containment, and Treatment ) (National Lockdown)(No.2) Order,2020) (”the principal order”), published in statutory instrument 200 of 2022.
“All laws with respect to the licensing of those services that were in force immediately before the commencement of the principal order shall recommence in force with immediate effect.” reads part of the SI.
The Covid-19 pandemic affected all sectors of the economy and the transport sector was not spared.
Most kombi drivers and conductors lost their jobs when the government decreed the ban.