By Sheryleen Masuku
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is putting the lives of young children in danger by forcing them to disembark from private commuter omnibuses on their way to school.
The children are left clueless on how to return to their homes as the state-controlled Zupco is failing to provide adequate buses, a move which has resulted in desperate passengers seeking alternative transportation.
This was revealed by MDC- Alliance MP for Bulawayo Metropolitan Toffa Jasmine, in an interview with Sly Media News.
“It has been reported to me that children going to school are made to disembark with adults at Police road blocks and the Police don’t care that children don’t know where to go or what to do”.
Jasmine said school going children have been victims of ZRP’s careless actions.
“Can you imagine a child in grade one trying to find their way home? There are children in the high-density areas that go to schools across the city, such as Coglan Primary and Milton just to name a few, for reasons best known to their parents.”
The Zanu PF led administration banned private-owned commuter omnibuses last year.
Only companies registered under the state-controlled ZUPCO are allowed to operate in the country.
Jasmine’s made remarks following the recent clampdown by ZRP on private omnibus operators which left hundreds of passengers including school children stranded in Bulawayo as police impounded taxies including mini buses hired to transport children to school that are not registered under ZUPCO.
Jasmine said the transport situation in Bulawayo is dire.
“Children’s rights are being seriously violated due to this callous action. Children are missing school in some instances and at times are being taken to a police station which is additional trauma to the children and we do not have enough counselling services in the country”.
She criticized the Local Government Ministry led by Zanu PF’s July Moyo of making rush decisions without consulting citizens thereby putting the lives of women and children at risk.
She said citizens especially women and children have been putting their lives at risk by hitch hiking with strangers because of failure by ZUPCO to provide adequate transport.
“I don’t understand why and how some decisions are just made at the suck of a thump without due processes being followed and the best interests of the citizens considered”.
“It is important when changes are made that, due process is followed and adequate measures are put in place and that the best interest of citizens, especially women and children is taken into consideration. Women have to walk long distances getting home late after work and they still need to cook for their families”.
“I implore the Minister in charge to look into this desperate situation of Bulawayo with empathy”.
Jasmine has called on Minister Moyo to allow transport operators such as Tshova Mubayiwa and Bupta to resume their operations in Bulawayo.
“Transport operators that are registered and were plying the Bulawayo province routes such as Tshova Mubaiwa and BUPTA should be allowed to do the good job that they were doing before this ZUPCO monopoly came into action”.
“Until the Ministry of local government has their act in order let transport operators that were organised be allowed to serve the citizens of Bulawayo”.
Desperate passengers and Kombi touts in Bulawayo said they have resorted to singing hymns and pretending that they are on their way to a funeral at police road blocks in order to avoid victimisation by the police.
Esther Zimudzi a concerned Harare citizen has started a petition to Local Government Minister Moyo, to provide adequate public transportation system for all citizens.
“It is sad that passengers have resorted to such gimmicks”. These gimmicks are however, unlikely to work in the future, as Minister Moyo has reiterated Government’s position that only ZUPCO affiliated commuter omnibuses are permitted on Zimbabwe’s roads.
Zimudzi’s petition has been signed by over 5000 passengers across the country. The petition will be handed over to Minister Moyo and President Emmerson Mnangagwa this month.