Rimbi, Zebra Kiss bus company suspensions render 400 jobless – trade union

HARARE – Government’s tough decision to suspend operating licences for bus operators Rimbi Tours and Zebra Kiss last week rendered up to 400 workers at the two passenger transporters jobless, a trade union has said.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Felix Mhona decreed the punitive freeze on the companies’ operations following a fatal road traffic accident involving a Rimbi Tours bus at the 160km peg along the Harare-Nyamapanda highway.

The bus conductor was killed while several passengers were injured in an accident linked to human error following a high speed race between the two bus crews which were competing for passengers.

The Rimbi Tours bus rammed on a tipper as its driver tried to overtake the Zebra Kiss bus which had been blocking him.

Associated Transport Workers Union (ATWUZ) General Secretary Leonard Mutizwa said the suspension of the licences had cost members of his union their jobs and called on the minister to consider their plight and withdraw his decision.

“Considering that these two companies have up to 200 buses in total means that there are more than 400 families affected by this decision because their breadwinners have been rendered jobless.

“We also have those working in workshops, like mechanics and also those in administration who will also be affected by that decision,” he said.

Mutizwa said the minister should have considered the plight of the workers and their families before reaching the tough decision.

“While we acknowledge that the two bus crews erred, we are not happy with the decision reached by the Minister of Transport, Felix Mhona to suspend operation licenses of the two companies because he did not consult players in the transport industry before reaching that decision.

“He should have approached us and asked for our opinion instead of making a unilateral decision to suspend their licences because of the acts of just few individuals, adversely affecting hundreds other innocent workers at the two companies,” he said.

The ATWUZ General Secretary said Mhona should have made use of the existing labour and criminal laws to punish just the two bus crews instead of punishing other workers who had nothing to do with the accident.

“We have our Employment Code for the Transport Industry which disciplines errant workers at plant level according to the Labour Act and we also have criminal laws which deal with offending drivers, including those involved in dangerous driving like in the case of the two drivers.

“These laws should have been used to deal specifically with those two drivers instead of making a decision that would affect other drivers plying different routes and observing the rules of the road,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Engineer Chinyanga said in a letter on behalf of the Minister to ATWUZ dated January 24 that the suspension was done in terms of section 17 (1) (b) (i) of the Road Motor Transportation Act (Chapter 13:15) and was in the interest of public safety, which interest he said was also protected by the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, in a new development, government Thursday lifted the suspension imposed on Zebra Kiss after the company was said to have complied with conditions set out for the scrapping of the punitive measure.

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