Commuter omnibus operators embrace move to Egodini

By Ndumiso Tshuma

Commuter omnibus operators have welcomed the Bulawayo City Council’s directive to relocate them to Egodini Taxi Rank, as they have been facing stiff competition from pirate taxis.

This comes after BCC ordered all commuter omnibuses and informal traders to move to their designated vending sites and designated taxi ranks at the refurbished Egodini rank by February 9, 2024.

In interviews with CITE at the recently opened taxi rank, Simanga Mpala, a kombi driver who recently moved to Egodini claimed their business had picked up.

“It is not the same as it was before when we were outside the rank. Now our business is better and is going well,” he said.

Another kombi driver, Dawu Ngwenya, said the relocation to Egodini taxi rank seemed to be a viable move as customers would now be solely using their services there.

“We were having a tough time when we were not working, as we spent countless hours sitting in these cars not making money while the kombi owners also demanded their share at the end of our shift. Now Egodini has opened so we hope to make money by carrying passengers and be more organised,” he said.

Ngwenya added that police were also doing a good job by going after the pirate taxis who were flouting the law as that would aid their chances of making more money.

Ngwenya’s sentiments were also shared by kombi drivers who operate at City Hall, plying the East Division District routes, as they called for more enforcement to stop pirate taxis.

“The Honda Fit association should be removed permanently so that we kombi drivers carry more passengers and have a better future,” said Method Mpilo.

Mpilo added that if pirate taxis were dealt with, the operations of commuter omnibuses would thrive.

“Maybe our business will get back to normal. The removal of Honda Fits should be so effective that they don’t work again because they always steal our customers,” he said.

However, drivers under the Honda Fit Association claimed the forcible removal of their cars by police from the road was unfair as they too were trying to make a living. 

“We are very clean, we don’t steal from anyone and we are also looking for money. This is where our children eat from. We pay school fees and rentals from the money we get here but we are now finding it difficult to work,” said Steven Mbirimbi, the Chairman of one of the Honda Fit Association called MT Express. 

“The operation carried out by the police is unfair to us and we wish that the government can recognise us so that we can also formally transport people.”

Mbirimbi said formally registering the Honda Fit Associations would allow them to work properly.

“There is no work in the country, so to us Honda Fit drivers, carrying passengers is part of survival. We will campaign for this because we want to transport legally,” he said.

“When the police come to harass us, some of us get injured in the process and there is no order. The police should come to us and talk to us as individuals rather than start chasing people and harassing them.”

However, Mbirimbi said they were against applying for red plate number plates that indicated they were formal transporters saying the process was tedious and resulted in a lot of scrutiny.

“We don’t want our cars to have red car plates. We want to remain with our yellow plates because if there are red car plates, drivers are asked a lot of questions such as if they have undergone a defensive drive test or a retest. Most of our drivers are people who are self-employed and don’t have retest or defensive number plates but just want to work for their survival,” he said.

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