By Reannie Ngodo
The Passengers Association Of Zimbabwe’s President, Tafadzwa G. Goliati has said the shortage of public transport has the potential to multiply the spread of COVID 19 as people overcrowd at places like Copacabana in Harare to commute home.
“Since the government banned the private transport operators last year and following the recently introduced statutory instrument of RTGS$2000 fine for boarding illegal vehicles, the shortage of transport worsened. This has the potential of spreading the COVID-19 pandemic in the country because there is no social distancing due to long queues and overcrowding at bus termini and other undesignated pick-up points,” Goliati said.
The government announced the reopening of schools last week. However, the conditions are complicated for students in urban areas who commute daily to school. Without an option, they board mushikamushika and private cars so that they will travel to their respective schools.
“I know it’s illegal for me to hike from this undesignated point but there are no Zupco buses. Today is Monday. It’s shools opening day. We are supposed to start learning so we can not wait here for the buses that are not coming. It’s better to board these unwanted kombis to go to school,” a student who identified herself as Charmane told this publication.
The transport crisis, apart from its danger of the potential to spread COVID-19, is affecting production at workplaces since most workers don’t start work on time.
Nelisah Bhamu recounted that she arrived home at exactly 1930 hours after waiting to be ferried by the ZUPCO bus from around 1530 hours. She encouraged the public transport operator to adhere to reliable timetables and called on authorities to provide more Zupco buses as a matter of urgency so as to cater for a large number of people who are going to and from work.
The government is spearheading a massive vaccination campaign as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19. A large number of people are getting vaccinated and masking up. Following the promulgation of a statutory instrument banning the use of unauthorised vehicles, about 200 individuals have been fined RTGS$2000 each for boarding non-Zupco buses.
Mr Goliati said the monopolization of the transport sector by ZUPCO can easily be a superspreader for the virus since people spend more time in very long queues and end up disregarding social distancing and proper wearing of masks.