BULAWAYO: Several kombi drivers operating in the city were on Wednesday beaten, harassed and forced to reduce fares from $2 to $1 by a military crackdown team deployed to manage the aftermath of violent protests in the southern part of the country.
Yesterday government introduced Zupco buses to ply routes between the Bulawayo Central Business District and the city’s residential suburbs as it seeks to neutralize mayhem caused by fuel price increases announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently.
Last week transport operators joined the protests over fuel prices and removed their vehicles from the road to force government authorities to rescind its decision.
But authorities have refused to reverse their position amid a brewing storm of another shutdown.
“Soldiers harassed and beat up the driver before asking us to disembark from the kombi along Nketa Drive where they had mounted a roadblock, a passenger said on Wednesday morning on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
“They asked us how much we had paid, and instructed the conductor to give us change”.
According to a driver who spoke to The Citizen Bulletin on condition of anonymity, the soldiers queried the $2 fares charged by most kombis plying city routes and ordered them to drop them to a dollar or face the wrath of the military.
“They demanded that we drop the prices forthwith or else leave Zupco to carry passengers,” he said.
By 10 am, most kombi drivers had parked their vehicles for fear of harassment from the soldiers.
Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson Everson Mugwisi was not reachable for comment at the time of going to press.
But last week government authorities denied claims that they had deployed the army and police to terrorise civilians, a position maintained by rights groups. – The Citizen Bulletin