Pirate taxis declare war on kombis
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