The Government took advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020 to ban private commuter omnibuses (commonly known as kombis), which had become a menace to both the travelling public and other road users.
After banning the kombis, the Government invited operators who still wanted to continue with the business to join the Zupco franchise where they would follow stipulated safety and other road regulations.
The move has since seen sanity returning to the public transport sector while also contributing immensely to the fight against Covid-19 through compliance with preventive protocols.
However, some of the kombi crews have maintained their crude behaviour, both towards commuters and on the road.
Commuters interviewed by New Ziana urged Zupco to train its kombi staff in public relations and to monitor them strictly to ensure they reformed.
“They are still the same, rough and lawless,” said Jeffrey Mafukeni from Glen View in Harare.
“Sometimes they get to the rank and park, the drivers recline their seats and sleep while the conductors go out to buy food or they start counting their takings. After a while they start their buses and drive off without any passengers, leaving dejected commuters in the long queues. I do not think they are supervised,” he added
Commuters also accused some of the kombi staff of contributing to the spread of Covid-19 by not complying with the government directive to sanitise passengers before they boarded, insisting that they wear face masks, and that they did so correctly.
The Government instructed Zupco to ensure its staff hand sanitised passengers before they boarded as well as disinfected buses after a certain number of trips.
“Some of the drivers and conductors do not wear face masks and if they do, they will be lowering them below the chin,” said Patience Mutevhani from Kuwadzana.
A motorist from Mufakose who only identified himself as Aaron said the former private kombi crews were tarnishing the image of Zupco as they took their old ways to the public transporter.
Contacted for comment, Zupco acting managing director Everisto Madangwa said the company would consider re-training its commuter omnibus staff in customer care.
“When they joined us, everyone was subjected to training in public relations. It is critical to train them again,” he said.
Madangwa said Zupco would also increase supervision of its commuter omnibus staff, both at the ranks and on the road.
The Second Republic has prioritised the revival of ZUPCO as a strategy to introduce an efficient and affordable public transport system.
Over the years commuters have been suffering at the hands of private operators following the collapse of Zupco largely due to mismanagement and lack of capitalisation.