Rural bus conductors causing mayhem on our roads

27 Sep, 2022 - 00:09 0 Views
Rural bus conductors causing mayhem on our roads Zezani community members follow proceedings during a cyber security outreach programme in Beitbridge. Picture courtesy of Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe

The Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter

AN old rickety bus, carrying passengers packed like sardines with luggage and other goods, toddles its way on an uneasy terrain on its way to Nkayi in Matabeleland North province. Strangely, there are five men atop the bus hanging onto the carriage and are observed sharing what looks like plastic bottles, with a brown liquid, perhaps alcohol and cigarettes, while the bus meanders along the journey.

The bus left Renkini Bus Terminus and passed by the first police roadblock just 7km away from the Bulawayo city centre, there were no human beings atop the bus. When the bus gets to Inyathi Business Centre, this changes as the first passengers get off and new ones get in. Removing the luggage off the top of the bus needs strong people. 

This luggage comprises window or door frames, 50kg sacks of maize kernels, maize meal and other goods.

When the bus leaves, those who have gone on top of it to remove the luggage stay there and settle on the luggage and find a place to balance. On this route, it is busy and buses have these men, who perform Houdini-like acts, hanging on the bus carriages. What is interesting is that they do this on roads where they know certainly that there are no police around to enforce the law.

On routes in Tsholotsho, when one meets a bus travelling along the rural dust road that passes by Bubude Shopping Centre, Mbamba and Emahapeni areas, a bus will have a crew atop. It seems that the men are now adept at what they are doing and this seeming phenomenon looks like an everyday thing. The men know what they are doing is illegal, and even dangerous, but they continue and do not want to reveal much about their trade.

“We aren’t afraid. This is our job. This is what puts food on my table. You might think that it’s dangerous but it’s a necessity. Besides the bus doesn’t travel at high speeds because of the road between Inyathi and Nkayi and also the rural routes,” said one of the conductors who identified himself as Bheki. Another one said, it’s just a necessity and convenience for their passengers, who they call their kings.

“This is easy for us to do. We are given some money which I can’t reveal, but it”s money that we can use to make ends meet. It’s just a better convenience, that we can help passengers remove their luggage faster and we know, whose goods are for who. Sometimes they are labelled,” said the conductor. Others are people who would have travelled to neighbouring villages that can be as far as 70km apart, to do business or visit families.

“It’s a free lift for us. But there is nothing free in this world. So, this is the price I will pay, loading and offloading luggage, and when I get to my destination like Chief Dakamela area, I meet and visit my friends or family and then when the bus is ready to make the journey back to Nkayi Centre, I just jump on,” said another conductor. — Follow on Twitter @bonganinkunzi

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