Kombi strike causes chaos

BULAWAYO - Protesting commuter omnibus drivers yesterday blocked the Tshabalala-Nkulumane intersection to press home demands against spot fines and harassment by police manning numerous roadblocks along major routes from residential suburbs into town daily.

Police in riot-control gear manned a major intersection that acts as an artery to the city centre and industrial sites where commuter omnibus drivers and touts ensured none of their colleagues breached the blockade, leaving travellers stranded.

The taxi drivers were stopped and contained by the anti-riot police contingent deployed at the intersection at mid-morning but they continued hooting and revving their motor vehicle engines in front of the police and threatening any motorist who tried to assist stranded commuters.

Kombi drivers were chanting a local popular protest song: “Chihuri, Into’ yenzayo siyayizonda”, meaning “Chihuri, we do not like what you are doing”. 

“Hasifuni ukusebenzela amapholisa tina (We don’t want our earnings to go into the pockets of the police).”

The drivers argued that they were being treated unfairly by the traffic police who mount roadblocks at every kilometre interval, and demanded that police chief Chihuri address the issue at hand by removing his charges off the road. Rowdy touts alleged that police were “milking” them of their daily takings by demanding bribes for trivial offences.

Passengers from Nkulumane 5, Tshabalala, Sizinda and some parts of Nketa suburbs including schoolchildren were left stranded in the morning when kombi drivers decided to withdraw their services as a form of protest against what they termed harassment and extortion by traffic police. The operators claimed they were losing in excess of $50 per day in bribes to police officers.

This is not the first time commuter operators have protested against police demanding bribes from them.

Early this year, Harare commuter omnibus drivers plying the Norton-Harare route also withdrew their services leaving passengers stranded in the capital city.

The protests come hard on the heels of pronouncements by Justice Francis Bere on the unconstitutionality of spot fines. But Vice President and Justice minister

Emmerson Mnangagwa alongside the police boss defended the spot fines, much to the public’s chagrin.

By midday, desperate commuters, including schoolchildren in Tshabalala-Sizinda drive could be seen milling around the intersection bus stop while others opted to return home.

The long-running dispute between police and commuter omnibus drivers has spawned several court cases where drivers have been charged with attempted murder and abduction in instances where the drivers have abducted police officers attempting to commandeer vehicles to the charge office.

Comments (4)

IT IS STARTING PROPHET T.B. JOSHUA. YOU SAID IT WILL START SMALL.

see - 10 March 2015

I hope this bold move by the Bulawayo operators could be coordinated and done even for a week the whole of Zim so that these thieving law enforcement agencies are flushed out of our roads. Amandla!

Murimigwa Sherpherd - 11 March 2015

Although these guys had a point but they were not supposed to harass other motorists who had their own private cars. They should have staged a peaceful demonstration or alternatively just park their cars than to engage in hooligan behaviour. I am 100% behind the Riot Police who came and restored order and we should never tolerate that type of behaviour. Batai vanhu mapurisa!

Lizwe Mketiwa - 11 March 2015

Kahleni bo, umbali walencwadi ngokomdabu uqamukaph' kwezwe. Esintwini as'kwazi ukusebenzisa u (H) ku Kasifuni.

Gudl'ndlu - 11 March 2015

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