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Kombi operators feel the pinch


THE BULAWAYO United Public Transport Association (Bupta) has not been remitting tax to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) since the introduction of the multi-currency regime in 2009 due to what it terms the unfair business practices posed by pirate transporters.


In an interview with Southern Eye on Tuesday, Bupta secretary-general Albert Ncube said the government should urgently stop unregistered transporters from ferrying commuters because they were pushing registered operators out of business.

“We admit that we owe Zimra a lot of money dating back to 2009, but this has been caused by pirate transporters,” he said.

“During the Zimbabwe dollar era, we used to remit tax in time and we had no problem. However, with the introduction of the multi-currency, a lot of unregistered cars went onto the road and we are struggling to make ends meet.

“There are over 400 vehicles pirating in Bulawayo’s eastern suburbs and they have been allowed to operate willy-nilly yet registered transporters have to operate from Egodini (Basch Street terminus). In the western suburbs, we have kombis operating illegally and picking people at undesignated points,” he said.

Ncube said kombis operating from Egodini made about $15 a day and had to pay Zimra, passenger insurance, vehicle insurance, permits and operator’s licences yet pirate vehicles remitted nothing.

“This is the reason why we are failing to pay Zimra and authorities should think logically and descend on those pirating transporters. We are willing to pay, but the environment is not conducive. We have lost business because commuters no longer go to Egodini, but use undesignated pick-up points for pirate vehicles.”

Unregistered transporters pick up passengers at the corner of Robert Mugabe Way and 12th Avenue, George Silundika and Leopold Takawira Avenue, Max Garage, George Silundika Street and 8th Avenue as well as Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street and 3rd Avenue. Unregistered kombis also pick up passengers from Lobengula Street and 6th Avenue, Herbert Chitepo Street near Edgars, Herbert Chitepo and 11th Avenue and TM Hyper where they make 10-15 trips a day compared to registered operators who make only two or three trips.

“Unregistered transporters have literally taken over all the routes in the city and as a result public transporters are struggling to get passengers.

“This makes it difficult for registered transporters to pay for the requisite papers that permit them to operate.

“Drivers need retests, medical certificates and defensive driving licences, which they cannot afford because there is no business,” he lamented.

On Tuesday, Zimra and police details launched a blitz on tax defaulters forcing public transporters to temporally hike fares to $1.
Zimra charges public transporters a presumptive tax of $150 after every four months. Transport associations have for a long time accused the police and Bulawayo City Council of failing to expel pirate transporters from the city’s roads.

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