POLICE in Bulawayo yesterday mounted roadblocks on all roads leading to the city centre in a crackdown on pirate taxis that left commuters stranded.
Scores of commuters had to walk more than two kilometres to get to the city centre as pirate taxis dropped them off just before the roadblocks.
A relaxation on lockdown regulations has resulted in an increase of illegal kombis.
Government decreed that all public transporters should be registered under the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) franchise.
Last week pirate kombi drivers ganged up with some rogue elements and attacked traffic police officers before smashing the police car rear windscreen and stealing a car battery which was in the boot.
Although Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said the roadblocks were part of routine police deployments to maintain order in the city, kombi operators maintained they were a retaliation to last week’s incident.
“Police on roadblocks are at work, enforcing law and order like they have always been since the beginning of lockdown,” said Insp Ncube.
The Chronicle news crew observed that pirate kombis were dropping passengers several kilometres outside the city centre.
Kombis that use Luveve Road dropped commuters behind Mckeurtan Primary School in Makokoba dodging the police who were blocking the road along Third Avenue Extension.
Those operating along Gwanda Road were dropping their passengers opposite Centenary Park leaving them to proceed into the city centre on foot.
A kombi driver who declined to be identified said they were dodging the police who were impounding vehicles not registered under Zupco.
“We have been running away from police since morning, I saw a Honda Fit being impounded in the morning so we could not risk it,” said the driver.
A commuter who only identified himself as Mr Muriwa said he boards pirate taxis because Zupco buses would be full when they reach his bus stop. I want to use Zupco buses because it’s cheaper but whenever they pass by my bus stop, they will be full. I cannot wait because I’m expected to clock in on time at work, he said.
Since the beginning of lockdown only Zupco registered buses and kombis are allowed to transport commuters in terms of Covid-19 prevention regulations.