MINISTER of State for National Security in the President’s Office Owen Ncube has expressed shock that private commuter omnibuses and pirate taxis are back the cities and towns as well as on the highways in breach of the Covid-19 regulations.
“Why are we having so many commuter omnibuses and pirate taxes on the highways when there are police roadblocks?” Ncube told a Midlands Province inter-ministerial Covid-19 taskforce yesterday in Gweru.
“You see them along Harare road, Bulawayo and Gokwe roads for example. They have resurfaced along the high ways yet we know that it should be Zupco buses or commuter omnibuses that should be ferrying people,” he said.
Only Zupco buses and kombis are authourised to ferry passengers during the lockdown but they are always overwhelmed with passengers, a development that has forced travellers to resort to pirating commuter omnibuses and taxis.
Ncube urged the police to clampdown on these illegal operators violating Covid-19 regulations.
“The coming back of these kombis and mushikashika is worrying and police should move swifly to remove them,” he said.
In Gweru, Bulawayo and other cities, private commuter omnibuses and pirate taxis are back on the roads despite the fact that they are banned under level two of the national lockdown.
The illegal operators are providing transport to residents who are sneaking into towns in breach of the Covid-19 regulations.
They are also transporting commuters beween cities and towns despite the ban on inter-city travel. These illegal operators that are plying different routes from Bulawayo, Harare, Gweru, Zvishavane, Gokwe and other such areas, start operating as early as 4am and are finding ways of evading police roadblocks.
Ncube said Government is also worried about the surge in people escaping from quarantine centres.
More than 150 people have escaped from quarantine centres and only 23 of them have been arrested.
“We need to beef up security at the quarantine centres because we can’t have for example 18 people disappearing from Mkoba Teachers College quarantine centre.
“It means there is laxity in security which must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“The provincial JOC must revisit the issue of security at the quarantine centre which at the moment is not tight enough,” he said.