Intercity travel ban: Travellers stranded at terminus

SCORES of travellers intending to travel to their rural homes were on Wednesday morning stranded at Bulawayo’s Nkulumane Long Distance Country Bus Terminus following the government’s ban on intercity travel.

As part of measures to control the spiralling Covid-19 infections and deaths, President Emmerson Mnangagwa moved the country’s lockdown to the tougher level 4, including the suspension of intercity travel.

Under the new lockdown measures, businesses are now expected to operate from 8am and close at 3.30pm with intercity movement being prohibited, except for production and distribution of food and medicine.

Commercial transport remains operational to allow economy to continue to run, but under strict observance of Covid-19 protocols with industry being directed to decongest workplaces to 40 percent of manning levels

The curfew hours run from 6.30pm-6am while those deported back to Zimbabwe will be subjected to self-quarantine, or be quarantined in identified places.

“Following a recent surge in Covid-19 cases and subsequent to the localised lockdown measures introduced in places such as Kwekwe, Karoi, Kariba and Chinhoyi, we are now stepping up our efforts by introducing additional enhanced level four measures,” said President Mnangagwa..

“As we continue to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, I call upon the whole nation to continue observing the WHO protocols, as well as to embrace the free vaccination programme that is availed by the government to protect all our people.”

He added: “Commercial transport is to remain operational to allow the economy to continue to run, but all people must observe Covid-19 protocols.”

Nkulumane terminus which is usually a hive of activity with a number of buses plying the Bulilima, Mangwe, Matobo and Tsholotsho loading passengers, was almost deserted Wednesday morning.

Travellers, some of whom had come from South Africa the previous night and intended to go home, waited hopelessly for the transport.

“We don’t know how we will travel home as you see that there are no buses today,” said one traveller intending to travel to Maninji in Mangwe.

“When we left Joburg yesterday we did not know that the lockdown would also be tightened on this side.”

Some travellers told CITE they had been promised a pirate kombi which would ferry them but expressed concern that it had taken long to come.

During a similar lockdown period last year, defiant travellers travelled by night using pirate kombis charging fares as high as ZAR 200.

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