By Yvonne Ncube
Commuters in Bulawayo were yesterday stranded as there was a shortage of transport after Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) kombi drivers staged a sit-in over two months’ salary arrears.
The job action at the Zupco Kelvin depot in Bulawayo was peaceful.
Zupco buses were the only ones available to ferry commuters but were overwhelmed by the high number of people seeking transport in the morning.
When a Chronicle news crew arrived at the depot, the drivers were sitting outside the premises determined not to collect the vehicles that were parked inside.
People struggled to find transport to work as drivers vowed to down tools until their salaries reflected in their accounts.
Around 5PM pirate kombis were charging $60 per trip to desperate commuters.
Representatives of Zupco management told the disgruntled drivers that they would receive their salaries before the end of day yesterday.
A representative from the management who spoke on condition of anonymity said they had been shown proof that transfers had been done and the drivers were expected to receive their salaries anytime yesterday.
Some of the striking drivers’ parked kombis
Drivers who spoke to Chronicle said that they will not go back to work until they receive their payments.
“We are not going to ferry passengers until our money has reflected in our accounts. Most of us here are living hand to mouth. Our families are looking up to us and we cannot feed them because we have not been paid for nearly three months now. What do they think we are eating? Our children are on lockdown. What will they eat?” said Mr Khumbulani Nxumalo.
Another kombi driver Mr Oscar Nare said he does not understand why they are not paid when they cash in over $17 000 a day.
“We work tirelessly everyday so that we have a decent amount to cash in at the end of the day. Where is that money going? We ask management to pay us our dues, we sweat for that money.
“The reason why people resort to crime is because doing something decent does not pay, you do not get what you worked for. It’s surprising that we have worked for this company for two years but we are only seeing the management for the first time today,” said Mr Nare.
Mr Desmond Dlodlo said they are still operating because they get a decent pay.
“The only thing that is still keeping us here with this company is the decent pay. As kombi drivers we earn ZWL$7 000 per fortnight, which is sustainable but now if we are not getting paid, we have no reason to stay,” said Mr Dlodlo.
They said that they have no direct relations with the company. Zupco pays the kombi owners, then the owners pay the drivers.
When reached for comment Zupco Division Operations Manager Mr Tineyi Rwasoka refused to comment and referred questions to their headquarters which could not be reached immediately. The Chronicle