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Commuters board an open truck due to lack of transport in Harare,Zimbabwe,01 July 2021.

Lawyers pile pressure on Govt over transport crisis

HARARE – Lawyers have ratcheted up pressure public transporter, Zupco, over crippling transport shortages across the country.

This comes as the few buses available are failing to ferry thousands of commuters to and from work, leaving commuters enduring long queues at Zupco bus ranks.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said they empathise with the public and are eagerly awaiting handing down of judgment which was reserved on 28 February 2022 by the Supreme Court on an appeal.

ZHLR filed challenging the state-run Zupco monopoly and the imposition by government of restrictions on other transport operators arguing the move was limiting and preventing the spread of coronavirus.

“In the appeal, ZLHR argued that government regulations place a limitation on enjoyment of rights, particularly the right to freedom of profession, trade or occupation enshrined in Section 64, which is an economic right,” ZLHR said in a statement.

“ZLHR also argued that the creation of ZUPCO monopoly limits the right of commuters to board transport of their choice, limits the right of transport owners to earn a living, creates massive shortages and prejudice to commuters because ZUPCO has no capacity to trade.”

ZLHR contended that passengers are entitled to an open de-monopolised transport system and argued that the issue of giving “ZUPCO a monopoly has nothing to do with controlling public health and the coronavirus pandemic but that the measures are just about capturing the transport market in favour of ZUPCO and more appropriately those that have captured ZUPCO.”

“We stated that private commuter omnibus operators can still be asked to make sure that their passengers practice social distancing and mask up as is enforced aboard ZUPCO buses.”

Speaking after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa
“While noting the apparent withdrawal of services by some operators, Cabinet wishes to state that no effort is being spared in ensuring that the inconvenience to the travelling public is minimised.

“Government would like to assure the nation that Zupco is engaging with contractors with a view to ensuring that all arrears are settled and resolving any outstanding matters,” she said.

“…The security of the travelling public is very critical and that is what Cabinet is looking at. We cannot leave the public at the mercy of unroadworthy vehicles. We do not want any of our people to be endangered.”

People waiting for ZUPCO buses after work. [Photo/ The Guardian]