MASVINGO — Scotch cart owners contracted by the government to help evacuate Tokwe Mukorsi Dam flood victims have withdrawn their services demanding thousands of dollars in payment for the many trips they made moving people to higher ground.
Scotch cart owners initially charged $15 for the six-kilometre trip to the Kushinga Transit Camp, Gunikuni and Muzvidziwa bus stop where the flood victims are temporarily camped, but government said it was too much and the price was reduced to $10.
Civil Protection Unit (CPU) head Madzudzo Pawadyira last week confirmed that the government had commandeered scotch carts to help evacuate flood victims at $10 per trip.
“This is a national disaster and everyone with a scotch cart should assist.
“We are going to commandeer the villagers’ scotch carts and the standard payment is $10. We will pay them; you just have to write them down and the number of trips they make,” Pawadyira said.
But after making a lot of trips in anticipation for a cash windfall, scotch cart owners said they feared the promised money would not come as they have not got anything for the many trips they had made.
“I made about 20 trips sacrificing in the rain after the government said it will pay us, but up to now no money has come and I am afraid if I continue exhausting my cattle for no payment, I will be left with no draught power come next farming season,” said a villager who requested anonymity.
Other scotch cart owners also said they would only resume assisting in the evacuations once they had been paid.
“I think it is best that the government pays for the many trips we made before we can continue, otherwise we will not get anything when the dust settles.
“Whom will we approach when the ministers return to Harare,” asked another villager whose scotch cart was also used in the evacuation process.
Chivi district administrator Bernard Hadzirabwi confirmed the development, but could not say how much the scotch cart owners were owed by the government.
“I have heard about it but I will have to inform our superiors, otherwise in the meantime, we will have to deal with the resources available,” Hadzirabwi said.
The evacuated villagers are being moved to the Chingwizi area in Nuanetsi.