Transport operators have raised concern over Harare’s failure to maintain its official bus stations despite the local authority pocketing millions through rank disc fees.
Bus termini in Harare are situated at Charge Office, Rezende, Market Square, and Copacabana.
Council has for the past years been collecting rank disc fees from more than 10,000 commuter omnibuses that use its ranks and stakeholders are complaining that the local authority is neglecting bus termini despite collecting large sums of revenue from them.
Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators (GHACO) secretary Ngoni Katsvairo complained that council was being unjust on operators by collecting $100 per term (three months) from each kombi that plies any route in Harare.
“The ranks are in a dilapidated and shameful state. Sweeping is not the main service that we want. As operators we want shades and lighting in ranks, as well as sanitation facilities, such as toilets. Council must also protect us from non-compliant kombis and pirate taxis that operate from mushikashikas (illegal pick-up points),” said Katsvairo.
One kombi driver, Abraham Shonhiwa (47), from Mufakose, also grumbled over the state of ranks in town saying that termini are no longer conducive to people who work there, as they are always unclean.
“The state of our ranks is no longer conducive. We are now afraid that we will end up getting Cholera due to these unhygienic conditions. Council should keep our ranks clean because we pay to use them. They (council) are always complaining about getting peanuts for road rehabilitation from Zinara, but their behaviour is proving to be the same,” said Shonhiwa.
Commuters have also weighed in on the issue, saying they too have been exposed to dirt and harsh weather conditions when using the ranks. Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) coordinator Tafadzwa Golliati said passengers are not happy with Harare’s ranks as they are now in a mess.
“Ranks in the City are now outdated as they were meant for conventional buses. There is need for the construction of modern facilities. We are also not happy with the bus termini because they are now congested with vendors. They prefer selling at the ranks, leaving no room for free movement of commuters,” said Golliati.
However, when contacted for a comment, Harare’s Acting Corporate Communications Manager Michael Chideme suggested that council was currently not offering meaningful maintenance of the ranks as it was facing major challenges from land barons who continue to resist any move to develop such facilities.
“We have entered into deals with partners who want to develop the ranks into complexes. So we are waiting for those companies to come on board and start doing their work,” said Chideme, without highlighting when the partners are expected to start constructing new ranks.