Private kombis and pirate taxes remain banned from carrying commuters and travellers as part of the precautions to contain the spread of COVID-19.

However, owners of suitable kombis can still apply to join the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) franchise.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works insisted that only ZUPCO was allowed to ferry passengers.

ZUPCO, and the private buses and kombis operating under its franchise, meet set health and safety standards that minimise risk to passengers.

They only allow passengers to board and disembark at designated bus stops and terminuses.

Government said it was concerned over the illegal operation of private kombis, which mainly ply urban routes while others were plying the intercity routes despite a ban under the national lockdown regulations.

This is a health-induced transport strategy, that is meant to ensure that the further spread of COVID-19 is contained,” said the ministry.

COVID-19 remains a threat as new cases were being recorded.

Zimbabwe is recording cases ranging between five and 45 almost daily while more deaths continue to be recorded, a situation described by experts as worrying and indicative of the fact that “we are not yet out of the woods”.

Government said the ban on private kombis was not designed to disadvantage those who invested in the transport business, but to preserve lives in the wake of the health threat.

It has been noted with “great concern” that the operators who resist working with ZUPCO, were usually the unregistered ones, and do not meet the requirements.

We direct that private kombi and bus operators who intend to operate in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo and any other town or urban area, to register and work with ZUPCO.

The service is open to all kombi and bus owners who meet the stated requirements,” said the ministry.

To register, operators should have a current vehicle licence, vehicle insurance, certificate of fitness, passenger insurance and VID clearance.

Drivers of the vehicles under the ZUPCO franchise should have a valid driver’s licence, medical fitness, retest, defensive driving certificate and Government authority. Kombi or bus operators plying intra-city routes in Harare or any city and town in Zimbabwe without a ZUPCO sticker, and pirate vehicles (mshikashika), using undesignated pick-up points, risk being penalised and having their vehicles seized as provided for by law.

Credit: Herald

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