Privately owned commuter omnibus operators on Friday morning used burning tyres as barricades to block Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) buses plying the Cowdray Park route from operating in protest against their year-long ban.
The demonstration which started around 7 am brought traffic to a standstill and the anti-police had to be deployed to quell the situation.
They removed the burning tyres to allow vehicles to move.
The police also mounted a roadblock near the railway line to monitor the situation.
On Thursday afternoon the operators also blocked traffic along Luveve road at the NOCZIM traffic lights bringing traffic to a standstill.
Commuters who spoke to CITE said they had been waiting for close an hour without finding transport.
“I left home at 8 am and when I got to the main road there were people who were blocking the road with burning tyres. While their grievances are genuine, it has affected me because I had an urgent appointment in town, now it’s almost 9 am and I am still stuck here,” said the elderly woman.
Another commuter said the government should dialogue with private transport operators to find a lasting solution.
“The ordinary man is the one who suffers here, the government should find a solution to this transport situation so that commuters are not stranded on the road for hours,” said Butholezwe Ndlovu.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube condemned the conduct of the kombi operators and issued a stern warning against the perpetrators.
“As the police, we have a lockdown operation to ensure that non ZUPCO affiliated kombis do not transport people. We learnt that from yesterday to today in the morning kombi operators and some members of the public took law into their own hands. We promise that we will deal with all the perpetrators,” Insp Ncube said.
“This morning we learnt that they tried to block ZUPCO vehicles from ferrying people but the police were quick to intervene. No one has been arrested at the moment but should anyone try to do this again the law will catch up with them. For now, normalcy has been restored as far as public transportation is concerned.”
Zimbabwe banned privately-owned commuter omnibuses last year after the country declared a nationwide lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19.
This plunged thousands of families into poverty as their main source of income was affected.
The state-controlled Zupco is struggling to meet demand with private kombis returning to the roads in violation of the ban.