By Caroline Chiimba
Kombi operators in Bulawayo yesterday reported their staff being bashed by soldiers for charging $2 bus fare. The soldiers were allegedly demanding that the kombis reduce their fares to $1 or park their vehicles.
Witnesses from Sizinda, Tshabalala and Nketa Mnyoro told the Daily News that kombi drivers and conductors were being beaten up for allegedly overcharging.
Speaking to the Daily News, Tshova Mubaiwa chairperson Atlas Moyo said he did not personally see soldiers beating up the drivers but confirmed that one of the drivers came to the offices badly beaten and said soldiers roughed him up.
“There is one driver who passed-by and could not even get out of the vehicle because of pain, he was severely beaten. However, personally I did not see the soldiers beating him,” Moyo said.
He, however, said more drivers were saying they were beaten up for over charging.
“But our Kombis are not charging $2, we are charging $1.50, so right now this is all confusing,” Moyo said.
Efforts to get a comment from Bulawayo United Public Transporters Association (Bupta) representative were fruitless as he said he is in a meeting and cannot comment.
One conductor who spoke to this paper said they were being intimidated and told that they should not compete with Zupco. He said if the soldiers said if the kombis cannot charge a $1 then they must retire.
Commuters are, however, relieved that kombi fare have been reduced but expressed concern over the renewed conflict.
“The kombis are now back at dollar as soldiers came to the rescue, but the way they are operating might spark anger from these groups of conductors.
“I hope they come up with another way of making the kombi operators to comply rather than using this command method,” said Zuzu, one of the commuters.
Contacted for comment, Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango said she has not received any reports or cases of drivers and conductors being beaten up.
“No I am not aware of such but will find out,” Simango said. Daily News