The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has condemned the government’s move to pressure private transport operators to join Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) and called for adequate transport for workers who have resumed work.
Zimbabwe is currently on level 2 of the national lockdown which permits some formal businesses to resume operations.
Zupco buses are still the only mode of public transport allowed to ferry passengers while private players and smaller taxis remain banned, a situation that has seen some passengers stranded with no transport to and from work.
The Government, this week, made calls to private operators to join Zupco for them to resume work during the lockdown.
In a statement, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said transport challenges continue to plague community members commuting to work and back due to shortage of Zupco buses.
“Statutory Instrument (SI) 99 of 2020 Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) National Lockdown (Amendment Order No.5, 2020) stipulated that public buses are the only mode of public transport allowed. Omnibus like Kombis and smaller taxis are still not permitted to operate.
“This has resulted in a critical shortage of transport for workers commuting to and from their respective places of employment. As a result, most employers have enlisted transport companies to ferry their employees to work and back, which is an additional cost on companies that are trying to resume operations,” read the statement.
The Forum said coercing private operators to join ZUPCO is an unfair practice.
“Private transport operators have been negatively affected by the pronouncement. According to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, July Moyo, private transport operators to be classified as official service providers have to register with Zupco so that they can operate during the lockdown period. However, coercing private transport operators to join Zupco is an unfair practice and private transport operators have seen the move as a hostile takeover of their business,” they said.
The Forum also raised concerns on the increasing numbers of people defying the regulations of the national lockdown to pursue economic activities without protective clothing across the country.
“In Mazowe, community members were observed loitering at shopping centers and in streets without wearing masks or observing social distancing. Vendors were observed selling their commodities at street corners disregarding social distancing and hygiene.
“Community members were not allowed access into supermarkets without face masks, this resulted in community members exchanging face masks, tying shirts to their face whilst some were reported to have tied cardboard boxes.
“Similar reports were received from Umguza and Beitbridge were community members were not allowed entry into supermarkets such as N.Richards without face masks,” the Forum noted.