THE Zimbabwe Passengers’ Association (ZPA) has branded the proposed ban on commuter omnibuses as retrogressive warning that the move would impoverish ordinary citizens.
The government recently announced plans to phase out urban commuter omnibuses in line with comprehensive moves to decongest major cities as well as create a modern and affordable transport system.
However, ZPA secretary-general Paul Makiwa said the move was not a solution to increasing road carnage and warned that it would be disastrous to the economy.
“The Transport minister Obert Mpofu wants to phase out kombis, but we call upon the government to enforce the Road Motor Transportation Act of 1997 which addresses safety issues. Countries that have enforced this Act have got no problem, but our government is failing to enforce it,” Makiwa said.
“The law says a public vehicle like a kombi should have a carrying capacity of 16 passengers, but ours have got more than that because of folding seats. We say folded seats must be removed for safety and the issue should be relooked at by the government, public transporters and commuters to save lives and reduce passenger genocide.
“As I speak, 99% of kombis do not have a proper seating capacity and they overload resulting in passenger genocide because they don’t have ways of escaping in case of emergency,” Makiwa said.
He said 99% of road accidents in the country were caused by overloading adding that a 22-seater vehicle ended up carrying 35 seating passengers due to folding seats.
Under the government’s proposed moves, high-capacity buses operated by a limited number of private players would replace commuter omnibuses and are expected to service designated routes.
Traffic congestion in major cities has caused headaches to both residents and authorities.