By Trevor Makonyonga
The Passenger Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) is suing the public bus operator, Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) for violating COVID- 19 regulations and putting lives at risk.
There is a failure to maintain social distancing in the ZUPCO buses which now carry passengers to full capacity.
Speaking to Bustop TV, PAZ president, Tafadzwa Goriati said ZUPCO alone could not cater for all public transport commuters.
“We are suing ZUPCO because of their handling of COVID-19 regulations. The situation passengers have to go through are unbearable especially with the curfew imposed. People are not able to exercise social distancing. With the curfew imposed, ZUPCO is unable to ferry people out of town in three hours. Yesterday we were in town and people were still in town till 10 pm. When imposing the curfew they did not check whether ZUPCO had the capacity to ferry people. We have a problem with the government on the issue that they are not willing to engage every stakeholder in health. They want to go it alone piling all the work to the taskforce. NGOs have been left. They don’t know what is happening in the transport sector. We are saying we want to be taken home on time. Bring back private operators because clearly this monopoly has not worked.”
Goriati added that officials at ZUPCO had ignored PAZ when they urged them to follow World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 amongst passengers.
Recently ten ZUPCO employees tested positive to corona virus.
“We have been telling them to respect the WHO guidelines but they never listened. Now that their employees have tested positive, it is clear that we were making valid submissions. The buses are not being disinfected. They are not doing anything other than sticking useless COVID-19 stickers on the buses. Passengers are at much risk to get COVID-19 because people are not being sanitized. The buses are dirty. ZUPCO is the only mode of transport and we stand on queues with patients coming from hospitals. Due to the dire transport situation, it is difficult to maintain social distancing on these buses hence we were calling for other players to be roped in. Obviously this monopoly is not working. The truth is ZUPCO is just cheap other than that it is poor at service.”
In a statement, ZUPCO said that nine employees from the cash office at Willowvale and one from Belvedere tested positive after the Ministry of health conducted tests on July 29.
ZUPCO also said, “As we fight this pandemic once again encourage our passengers, stakeholders and nation at large to the necessary precautions to curb the spread of COVID-19.”