In a major blitz against kombis outside Zupco management operating and carrying passengers, police have since Friday impounded 857 kombis.
Owners of around 1 000 kombis have seen their vehicles integrated into the Zupco fleet but others have put their vehicles back onto the road and have joined the mushikashika in pirate operations that are against the lockdown regulations and often against other licensing rules.
Pirate kombis charge two to three times the approved Zupco kombi fares, which in any case are twice those charged on the long buses. According to police, some of the drivers of pirate kombis were fined while others are expected to appear in court soon.
But Asst Comm Nyathi said police would not release the kombis that they impounded, even if the driver escaped with a fine.
He said 23 kombis were impounded in Bulawayo, 244 in Harare, 98 in Gweru, 153 in Mashonaland West, 91 in Manicaland, 35 in Matabeleland South, 148 in Masvingo, 54 in Mashonaland East and 11 in Matabeleland North.
“Yesterday for instance, 353 kombis were impounded for operating outside the law. We are concerned that these errant kombi operators are exposing people to Covid-19, as they are not following the law. Most of them are even travelling at night while others are using feeder roads, which are in bushy areas,” Asst Comm Nyathi said.
Traffic police would remain deployed to arrest pirate taxi and kombi drivers picking up and carrying passengers. “I would want to reiterate that police checkpoints, roadblocks and patrols will remain activated to account for all errant drivers who have now resorted to breaking the country’s laws during this period. We will not hesitate to impound the vehicles and arrest the drivers.”
Some kombis and pirate taxis have also taken up intercity routes where traffic is largely banned to ensure any outbreak of Covid-19 can be quickly isolated in its town of origin.
Unlike the Zupco kombi fleet, which is largely built from private operators who have accepted Zupco contracts and rules, passengers on the private kombis do not have their hands sanitised when boarding and are not forced by conductors to wear face masks.