Police have impounded 1 889 pirate kombis and mushikashika in the past 10 days for carrying paying passengers in defiance of the lockdown regulations and have arrested 77 truck drivers carrying passengers.
The only permitted passenger transport services are run by Zupco, which has franchised private buses and kombis to operate under its control, subsidies and fare structure.
But pirate kombis have been cruising many routes and charging at least twice what the Zupco kombis charge, and four times or more what the Zupco long buses charge.
In addition, mushikashika are on the roads, charging even more, and trucks from pick-ups to large haulage trucks often stop by a long bus queue and take aboard anyone willing to pay their fares, which are lower than the mushikashika and pirate kombis.
The opening for the illegals comes from the long gaps between Zupco buses and kombis on many routes at some periods, and the fact that these legal buses and kombis are often full as they pass intermediate stops on their routes.
In addition to the blitz on illegal kombis, the police are continuing their routine enforcement of lockdown rules.
Since the start of the lockdown at the end of March a total of 98 215 people have been arrested for flouting lockdown regulations, with most invited to pay deposit admission of guilt fines of between $200 and $500 once investigations at a police station are made.
The police have also arrested 463 people for smuggling and border jumping, far more critical offences since most Covid-19 cases in Zimbabwe have been confirmed among people returning to Zimbabwe.
While those legally returning through border posts are quarantined and cleared or treated, those who jump the border can be vectors in communities.
ZRP national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the police will continue clamping down on commuter omnibuses, pirate taxis, truck drivers and people that are flouting Covid-19 lockdown guidelines.
He said some of the drivers of commuter omnibuses have been fined, while others are expected to appear in court.
“To date, we have arrested 1 889 kombis including pirate taxis operating outside Covid19 procedures. There is no going back on impounding these kombis and pirate taxis.
“We also urge motorists to stop ferrying passengers. We are also concerned by some motorists driving Toyota Wish vehicles and carrying passengers. We have information that they operate during the night and also easily pass through road blocks.
“If there are any security people on roadblocks conniving with these motorists, they will be arrested,” he said.
He urged the public to report to authorities any police officer or security officers asking people to pay money to pass through checkpoints and roadblocks.
“No member of the public should pay to pass through a roadblock and check point. Those who face such situations should report to the nearest police station. We are also aware that there are some members of the public who try to negotiate with security officers to allow them to pass through check points.
“That should stop. Exempted people should always carry their exemption letters and those who do not have these should stay at home.”
In a related case, Asst Comm Nyathi said police had acted when told of two bogus police officers manning a roadblock in Harare on Friday. Alert officers pounced on the pair and managed to arrest one, while his accomplice escaped.
Asst Commissioner Nyathi said police are aware that some elements are engaging in criminal activities during the lockdown and warned that they will be arrested.
He urged the members of the public to cooperate with the police. The Herald