Pi­rate taxis de­clare war on kom­bis

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Whins­ley Masara

PI­RATE taxi driv­ers al­legedly teamed up with touts in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day to stone a com­muter om­nibus, smash­ing its win­dows and dent­ing it, as the war over ur­ban routes es­ca­lates.

A group of about eight Honda Fit op­er­a­tors al­legedly at­tacked two kombi crews at a car wash in North End sub­urb, next to Baines In­fant School in a 10-minute skir­mish.

No one was re­ported in­jured in the con­fronta­tion that oc­curred at around 10AM.

Mr Arnold Ma­hachi (26) of New Loben­gula, the driver of the dam­aged kombi said the at­tack­ers were trav­el­ling in a black Honda Fit.

“About eight men ar­rived at the bore­hole car wash in North End. They at­tacked us with­out provo­ca­tion.

“The other team man­aged to get into one of the kom­bis and fled. They smashed my kombi while some hit us. We only man­aged to iden­tify two of the peo­ple who were hurl­ing stones at us,” said Mr Ma­hachi.

He said the pi­rates shouted that they wanted to shut down kombi op­er­a­tions in the city.

Bu­l­awayo Pub­lic Trans­porters As­so­ci­a­tion (BUPTA) sec­re­tary gen­eral Mr Al­bert Ncube said:

“A kombi was van­dalised and I must say we’re strug­gling to op­er­ate in the city yet we are fully reg­is­tered and li­censed to do so. The pi­rate taxi peo­ple need to be brought to book. They must learn that such bru­tal at­tacks don’t pay but can land them in jail.

“Kom­bis pay more than $500 to reg­is­ter and op­er­ate legally yet the pi­rate taxis don’t pay even a sin­gle cent to any­one. This be­comes very un­fair and it’s high time they are dealt with,” he said.

“With the eco­nomic chal­lenges, we’re all strug­gling and to me it de­fies logic for one to van­dalise prop­erty which some­one is us­ing to earn a liv­ing.

“Pi­rate taxi crews claim that they want to re­move all kom­bis from the roads yet they op­er­ate il­le­gally. They have no in­surance for pas­sen­gers. Many of them don’t have driv­ers’ li­cences, hence putting the lives of com­muters at risk,” he said.

Bu­l­awayo Met­ro­pol­i­tan Prov­ince deputy po­lice spokesper­son As­sis­tant In­spec­tor Abed­nico Ncube said in­ves­ti­ga­tions were un­der­way into a case of ma­li­cious dam­age of prop­erty.

“I can con­firm we re­ceived a re­port of ma­li­cious dam­age of prop­erty which oc­curred this morn­ing be­tween trans­port op­er­a­tors.

“The crew al­legedly trav­elled in a black Honda Fit but we can’t dis­close more in­for­ma­tion as this would jeop­ar­dise our in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” he said.

Asst Insp Ncube urged com­muter om­nibus op­er­a­tors and mem­bers of the pub­lic never to take the law into their hands.

“At­tacks and fights are un­healthy for any­one. When­ever peo­ple have prob­lems they should learn to en­gage po­lice by re­port­ing im­me­di­ately,” he said.

Com­muter om­nibus op­er­a­tors pay Zimra pre­sump­tive tax of $150 per quar­ter, a route ap­proval fee of $88, pas­sen­ger in­surance of $225, kombi third party in­surance of $87 per quar­ter, a route per­mit of $75, cer­tifi­cate of fit­ness of $20 per en­try and an op­er­a­tor’s li­cence fee of $140. — @win­nie_­masara

A kombi op­er­a­tor stands next to the van­dalised kombi in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day

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