Illegal kombi ranks, known as mushikashika, are endangering the lives of pedestrians and commuters in the CBD. Most of them are located at dangerous corners and intersections, with the most notorious one located at the corner of Park Lane and Leopold Takawira Street.
It was at this particular mushikashika that Girls High student Jovelyn Gomba (17) was run over by a kombi and lost her life last month. The same vehicle which was being driven by Wadzanai Mabika (41) also hit 35-year-old Odwell Mabanga, who sustained serious spinal injuries.
During the 2016 school second term alone, three pupils and one member of staff from the school have been injured by kombis at this unofficial rank. In spite of the clear danger of this location, the police have done nothing and it is still business as usual for the drivers who prioritize profit over safety.
Even though many mushikashika have sprouted up in the CBD, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and municipal police have failed to apprehend and discipline the culprits. Following the Girls High incident, there have been calls by the Harare community to put an end to these unofficial and life-threatening pickup points.
The problem with most mushikashika is that they are convenient for passengers and drivers but do not take into account the rules of the road. A combination of kombis and smaller, private vehicles also operating as public transport, make the spots chaotic as each driver fights to get the most passengers in a short space of time. To complicate things even more, while loading passengers, drivers are also on the look-out for police officers. At first sight of any law enforcement agents, drivers flee from the scene, subjecting unaware pedestrians and other drivers to dangerous driving.
The chases between the police and kombi drivers almost always lead to injured pedestrians with some killed. Commuters have been urged by authorities to avoid boarding public transport vehicles from undesignated sites and asking drivers to randomly drop them where there are no bus stops.
Click here to see our map of part of Harare with the mushikashika spots marked. Be aware of them and approach with caution when walking or driving in the CBD.