Buses shift to new illegal rank File picture: Buses at an illegal rank in Bulawayo

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
PUBLIC transporters who used to operate from an illegal bus rank along Leopold Takawira Avenue near Centenary Park have moved to another illegal rank along 4th Avenue behind Eveline High School.

The transporters who continue to shun the Renkini bus terminus, have moved together with touts and vendors.
Last month, Bulawayo residents urged Government to consider extending the suspension of operating licences to errant public transport operators who flout traffic rules and regulations by picking and dropping passengers at undesignated places in Bulawayo.

Vendors have followed suit and set up stalls at the new site

This came after the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development suspended operating licences of two Harare bus companies whose drivers were involved in reckless driving and speeding along the Harare-Nyamapanda Road leading to the death of one person.

The operating licences of Rimbi Tours and Zebra Kiss buses were suspended from operating on all routes across the country. However, the suspension was lifted for Zebra Kiss after Government said the bus company had complied with its licence requirements. The case was different for Rimbi Tours which decided to approach the courts for recourse, prompting authorities to await the outcome of the legal case before they can consider lifting the suspension.

The illegal Leopold Takawira rank is now empty, there is no congestion and vehicles are moving freely. The chaos has been shifted to 4th Avenue, just after Samuel Parirenyatwa Street.

Yesterday, the place was bustling with vendors, touts and buses. Passengers who want to travel to destinations such as Masvingo, Gwanda, Esigodini and Beitbridge  have followed the buses.

A Chronicle news crew visited the “old” and “new” illegal bus ranks and at the former, a team from the Bulawayo City Council municipal police with car in tow was patrolling Leopold Takawira Avenue. It seemed that the buses had “run away” from the illegal rank but there were signs some operators still want to benefit from the chaos.

A white pickup truck was stationed at the traffic-controlled intersection, at the corner of Samuel Parirenyatwa Street and Leopold Takawira Avenue, with people wearing reflector vests inscribed Inter Africa on the back. These were touts who were directing passengers to the new illegal bus rank along 4th Avenue. It was a hive of activity at the new illegal rank and there was a BCC pickup truck with police officers and other people in plain clothes.

However, the touts continued to canvass for passengers undeterred by the presence of the police and the BCC workers.
Bulawayo Deputy Mayor Councillor Mlandu Ncube said the local authority will clamp buses operating from illegal pick-up points.

“Everyone, especially those who are plying the Masvingo route have got loading bays at Renkini Bus Terminus so they must go there. Council will be left with no option but to clamp and impound defiant buses. I think for the last two to three days they have seen what we are doing. We are moving further to clamp them,” said Cllr Ncube.

He said the sprouting of illegal bus ranks has caused chaos in the city centre.

“These illegal ranks are causing chaos and congestion in the city centre. It’s actually destroying the image of the city and we can’t just watch these operators flouting our by-laws,” said Cllr Ncube.

Bulawayo police provincial spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube urged members of the public to use designated places to board buses and warned that repeat offenders at illegal ranks risk being jailed.

“The police are continuing to arrest people who are breaking the law including those who are picking passengers at undesignated place. There are areas of concern such as the Harare Road, 4th Avenue and Samuel Parirenyatwa where the buses go into the Centenary Park and in the evening people are robbed there,” said Insp Ncube.

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