City of Harare is proposing the arrest of passengers who use illegal pick-up and drop-off points popularly known as mushikashika.
Over the years, council has battled to contain kombis and pirate taxis which are accused of causing havoc on the city’s roads due to their use of undesignated pick-up and drop-off points. The result is council’s traffic cops being involved in cat and mouse chases with kombis and pirate taxis. This has sometimes led to arrests and fines for the kombi and pirate taxi drivers, but has also led to the damage of property and the loss of passenger and pedestrian lives.
Commuters who use mushikashika have been accused of being accomplices in the growth of illegal ‘bus-stops’ in the city and the proposed amendments to the Harare omnibus by-laws, 270 of 1977, now seek to have passengers prosecuted with the kombi drivers.
“The current bylaws prohibit the picking up of passengers at undesignated places by operators, yet the same passengers standing at the undesignated places go scot free. The amendments seek to punish both the operator and the passengers,” reads a section of the proposed Harare (Omnibus) (Amendment) by-laws 2015.
The proposed amendments sailed through council in October and are now awaiting approval after being advertised in two newspaper issues in terms of section 228 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) for any objections.
Some stakeholders in the transport sector who spoke to Harare News expressed satisfaction with council’s realisation that passengers were also culprits in the mushikashika problem. Tapiwa Mashingaidze the chairperson of Commuter Transport Development Network of Zimbabwe (CODENET) said that the arrest of passengers who use mushikashika will have a positive impact on the problem of illegal pick-up and drop-off points that have become uncontrollable in the city.
“The proposed amendments will definitely put a stop to this madness of mushikashika and touts. However, there is need to put monitoring mechanisms in place to make sure that the bylaw is fully enforced by traffic cops,” said Mashingaidze.
Kombi driver Fredrick Tapfuma (36) who uses the Charge Office rank, concurred with Mashingaidze saying that the arrest of passengers who use mushikashika will bring relief to licensed kombis that use designated ranks.
“City Fathers are spot-on because no kombi will go to an undesignated point unless there are passengers present. We have been losing passengers to unlicensed kombis that use mushikashika and we hope this new by-law will be of benefit to us licensed operators,” said Tapfuma.
Nevertheless, some commuters have complained about the proposed amendments to the Omnibus bylaw. Cyril Manhenga (51) from Mabvuku said that council should first address the challenges that are forcing commuters to use mushikashika.
“Mushikashika have become popular for cheaper transport and I think council should first introduce cheaper modes of transport before enforcing the amendment. The criminalisation of boarding at mushikashika will have a negative impact on commuters who cannot afford the higher fares that are charged in ranks,” said Manhenga.
Most of Harare’s by-laws have been rendered archaic over the years and CoH have been urged to review them swiftly so that they apply to the current day. Other bylaws currently undergoing review are the Dog Licensing and Control bylaws of 1973, the Meat bylaws of 1976, the Control of Worship in Open Spaces bylaws of 2015, and the Noise bylaws of 2015.
Do you use mushikashika? How do you feel about this bylaw? Email [email protected] or call 442866 to share your views.