Angela Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
COMMUTERS in Bulawayo have raised concern over the early knock-off time of Zupco buses and kombis which leave them at the mercy of private commuters who charge double in the evening.
Over the past two weeks, commuters have been struggling to get transport back home as Zupco kombis started disappearing before 8PM.
Bulawayo residents Association chairperson, Mr Ambrose Sibindi said residents’ lives were in danger as transport challenges were making them vulnerable to robberies and being murdered.
“We are very concerned about this issue because people’s lives are in danger at night. Some people from suburbs such as Mzilikazi resort to walking which is even more dangerous,” he said.
“National curfew time is at 9pm, many people knock-off at work places around 6pm latest. There is need to rush into supermarkets and the moment they get to bus stops there is no transport. And it’s more disturbing because it will be way before curfew time.”
Mr Sibindi also said Zupco kombis are becoming less common on the streets.
“If there is a problem, they should let clients know. We are seeing less of these kombis these days, even in the morning people end up taking private vehicles after waiting for too long at bus stops,” he said.
A stranded commuter who claimed to be a vendor in the city centre and only identified herself as MaNdlovu from Pumula South suburb said most times pirate commuter omnibuses prefer short distance routes and they were forced to pay US$1 which is twice what they pay in Zupco kombis.
“If you stay in long distance areas such as us, we stay in Pumula South and if we haven’t gone home by 7.30PM, we don’t bother going to look for Zupco kombis because even those registered to go our direction divert and go to nearby locations. We just sacrifice and pay private kombis at 6th Avenue.
“Sometimes police will be doing patrols and kombis will be running away at full speed and if you are inside, all you have to do is pray that nothing happens because there will be no other choice,” she said.
Contacted for a comment on the issue, Zupco Division Operations Manager Mr Tineyi Rwasoka said they would look into the issue.
“Zupco vehicles knock off when we are sure that there are no commuters waiting to be ferried to their homes but we do take note of the curfew time,” he said
“We are not aware that commuters are facing the challenge, we will look into the issue as soon as we can.”