Kombi operators push for touts removal

Commuter omnibus operators are calling for the immediate removal of touts at ranks while council officials take over blaming touts for the prevailing chaos often leading to overcharging and harassment of passengers.

The call comes as the finalisation of the Public Transport Associations is still in progress more than a year after President Mnangagwa allowed commuter omnibus to operate outside ZUPCO.

In its submissions to Harare City Council, Harare Passenger Transport Associations Apex (HAPTAA) chairman Ngonidzashe Katsvairo said if council fails the Government must step in.

Mr Katsvairo said they feel there is need for council and Government to ensure properly guided and operating associations are legally registered through a statutory instrument.

“As part of the city’s SME sectors and easy of doing business as well as service delivery policy. We humbly request that the council, in line with the Ministry of Local Government directive of February 2023, take control of ranks by manning them with municipal or traffic police.

“Instead of council just collecting rank fees and leaving operators and crew at the mercy of rank barons. The officers’ mandate will be to ensure only public service vehicles with City of Harare permits and rank discs are permitted within CBD ranks,” he said.

Mr Katsvairo said touts or rank barons are fleecing kombi operators for ranks that do not belong to them as operators would have paid for permits and rank disc fees to council.

“Using the extorted money, the touts engage in drugs and substance abuse at ranks with drivers and then start harassing and sexually abusing passengers who include women and school girls.

“Drivers, conductors and commuters are harassed everyday by the illegal touts or rank barons who reap off operators of their hard-earned little profits even after paying for council rank discs,” he said.

Mr Katsvairo also proposed for the erection of boom gates and perimeter fence at entrance and exit of ranks as well as around ranks to ensure they are secure for use by compliant operators only.

“The ranks also need proper toilets and water sanitation as well as lighting and shades to protect the health, security and well-being of their users (operators, crew, commuters and many others,” he said.

Herald

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