Bus operators in inter-city route war

A turf war is brewing among some long distance bus operators plying the Bulawayo to Victoria Falls route, a situation that could turn bloody if not solved.

The buses are operating from First Avenue and Lobengula Street, which CITE established is an illegal pick up point.

Dayise Express bus operators are accusing competitor Stallion Cruise of bulldozing on their space and loading passengers at their scheduled time.

“We started plying this route last year. Before we ranked here, ZUPCO was running a slot around 10 am and we engaged them for space. The permission was granted and we started loading passengers between 4 pm to 6 pm. Other buses that ranked here also agreed to that,” said Dayise Express General Manager, Nkosana Hlatshwayo, in an interview.

“But now we are now facing serious challenges from Stallion Cruise yet it was only coming to offload passengers then maybe carry a few and continue on his journey.”

Hlatshwayo said the different buses that used the rank gave each other time slots for loading to avoid disorder.

“Now Stallion Cruise has taken up our route and we don’t understand why. We have a permit to ply the Bulawayo -Victoria falls route but Stallion doesn’t even have a permit for doing so. Their permit runs from Harare to Victoria Falls, not Bulawayo to Victoria Falls but has been loading passengers every day,” he claimed.

Hlatshwayo claimed they tried to negotiate but their competitor was unforthcoming.

“We were told Stallion Cruise is owned by the President Mnangagwa’s son and they don’t need to use permits,” he alleged.

“We tried to resolve but these guys are declaring war against us. We are desperate and have no option but to say we need assistance from various institutions to help us.”

He also warned if the situation was not diffused, it could end in a major fight.

“With the way things are appearing and talk that is taking place, the end of the war will see blood spilled here on Bulawayo’s streets. We can’t be oppressed when we are supposed to be making a living,” Hlatshwayo said.

“Stallion loads three buses daily and zero for us yet we have workers and rent that has to be paid. Are we non-entities while Stallion owners are the only ones supposed to make money? We must resolve this issue in a peaceful way, no one must be greedy.”

Contacted for comment, General Manager of Stallion Cruise, Samson Mthombeni, said he had no knowledge there was a challenge at the rank.

He indicated no one owned a spot but bus operators worked well with each other.

“Since 2020 we have operated from that rank, working well with other buses such as Bravo, giving each other chances. We have never quarrelled.”

“There’s a time when we assigned our bus to some other route but we suddenly returned. But no one declared space for themselves,” Mthombeni said, wondering who gave Dayise Express permission to use the 4 pm slot.

“What gives them the idea they own this spot. As far as we are concerned ZUPCO is a competitor and does not have authority to apportion to another competitor any space. ZUPCO is just a player in the industry.”

Mthombeni admitted the rank was an illegal terminus therefore no one had ownership.

“If anyone claims to own that spot, they must show documentation because what we are doing is wrong. It’s an illegal rank yet we have been loading. We should not hide that because authorities never gave us permission just that we want to maximise getting customers. It is better we keep quiet because we are showing the authorities where we are hiding,” he said.

He added that initially the rank was a site designated as a drop and pick up point for passengers.

“Just that people take advantage if authorities don’t ask what we are doing. Fighting over it is wrong as one day, the council or any other authority can say stop using that spot.”

Mthombeni also laughed off allegations that Stallion Cruise was owned by President Mnangagwa’s son.

“There’s nothing like that. I don’t know if it is a crime in Zimbabwe that when someone becomes successful there must be someone behind you. Can’t you become successful without someone helping you,” he quizzed.

The bus transporter said if there was a challenge, both operators could engage each other.

“They can contact us then we sit down. In transport, there are so many competing players and the timetable of ranking depends on the supervisor,” Mthombeni said.

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) was yet to respond to questions over the matter.

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