Junior parliamentarians in Bulawayo have suggested that the government should allocate school-going pupils their own buses due to the increasing cases of sexual harassment in public buses.
Due to the economic crisis in the country, most people, school children included, have been forced to rely on the affordable Zimbabwe Passenger Company (ZUPCO) buses.
However, these buses are often oversubscribed with female passengers complaining of being sexually abused.
Mpopoma-Pelandaba Constituency junior MP Shaun Nyemba, says the government must allocate several buses to ferry only school children and teachers.
Nyemba said they had engaged the Minister for Provincial Affairs in Bulawayo, Judith Ncube, who in turn promised to liaise with the Provincial Education Director on the matter.
“We have noted several challenges faced by school children especially girls in the buses as they are exposed to sexual assault. A bus may come to a sudden halt and swerve passengers either forward or backwards. Girls who will be standing may be taken advantage of and be touched uncomfortably.
“We need to guard against such dangers. When boys see this kind of abuse, they may think there is nothing wrong for a girl child to be treated this way. By so doing we will be creating a wrong narrative in society,” said the junior MP.
Nyemba added: “We are not asking for extra buses to come to the rescue of leaners but we are simply asking for allocation of specific buses for them in the morning when they go to school and in the afternoon when they knock off.
“The Minister of State had promised to liaise with the PED. The feedback she gave us was they had strategized to rope in school headmasters so that they can release buses from several schools which will ferry learners only. We await the outcome of these deliberations.”
Nyemba explained that children have the right to a safe and secure environment.
“Some conversations that adults have in buses are not good for young children. They talk about anything and everything. There are adults with morals and those without so at the end of the day children are exposed to the wrong kind of conversations. They absorb the wrong mentality at a tender age. When they become teenagers, they would already be rowdy and this results in unruly societies,” he said.
“With the new curriculum you realise there are some learners who go to school early morning and spend the whole day at school. They then get to queue for the bus for more hours and get home late. Eventually they dread going to school because of the inconvinience.”