Harare commuters continue to endure transport challenges worsened by falling standards in the city’s public transport sector.
Bus terminuses such as Fourth Street, Copacabana, Market Square, and Mbare Musika are in a deplorable state, with broken down shade structures that protect people from direct sun and rain giving rise to questions of whether the local authority has abandoned any concern for commuters.
A visit by Harare News to the Fourth Street bus terminus revealed a sad state of disorder. Commuter omnibus and mushikashika operators constantly disregard set drive ways, while touts and vendors seem to have taken over every square inch of the busy terminus. Groups of touts sit on top of broken down passenger bays and urine flowing from a former ticketing booth emits a stench which pervades the entire terminus.
Hillside resident Yolanda Moyo commented on the bleak state of affairs in public transport management, “Using commuter omnibuses has never been good due to their unmannered conduct. Their reckless driving and terrible public relations does not do them any favours,” she said. Moyo added that kombis aren’t the general public’s best option, but considering that they are cheap and affordable, people will continue to use their services.
Those who have sought to opt out of the hassle and tussle of public transport have few options. Private taxis are not without their problems and dangers with a sharp increase in robberies by bogus taxi operators who pounce on unsuspecting clients reported lately.
Rutendo Mawere, who was a victim of a taxi robbery, told Harare News she was robbed at gunpoint after hiring a taxi from the CBD going to the Avenues. “I was surprised after the taxi driver stopped in the middle of the journey for no reason. In the middle of arguing over his unprofessional conduct, three gun-toting men emerged from nowhere, robbed me of money, a laptop, and my phone before driving off at high speed,” said Mawere.
Shamiso Mazvita Sithole also commented in a Facebook post that she was robbed late at night after a taxi she hired from Joina City to Greendale abruptly changed direction and headed out to a bushy area along Mutare. Sithole was robbed and summarily dumped just after the Jaggers roundabout by Harare Drive.
Sithole told Harare News that she no longer trusts public transport at night, which is why she opted for a taxi. “You opt for a taxi because it is safe as compared to kombis but when you are robbed while in a taxi, that does not make sense anymore. I am now nowhere,” she lamented.
Harare Residents Forum Coordinator, Denford Ngadziore, says Harare’s public transport system should be a top priority for both local authorities and government. “A bad public transport system tarnishes the country. They should invest heavily towards its resuscitation so that it is in tandem with global standards. It must be safe to use because it is used by the majority,” said Ngadziore.
Harare City Communications Manager, Michael Chideme, told Harare News, “We have agreed with a number of companies to construct state-of-the-art bus terminuses at Copacabana, Fourth Street, and Market Square. We are also in discussions with other investors to upgrade Mbare Musika.”
He added that the new terminuses will have parking bays, and business sections which will include banks and shops. Addressing the current disorder at transport hubs in the city Chideme said that council is focused on its policing duties, which include arresting those in breach of bylaws. “We allocated Fourth bus terminus to vendors and they should stick to designated areas to ensure that there is order.”
If you have been affected by crime while travelling email [email protected] or call 481085.