ZUPCO Overwhelmed: Govt Engaging Private “Kombi” Operators For Return To Business
23 September 2020

THE Government stands ready to engage with private commuter omnibus operators, as there is a need to include other players in the transport sector now that the country continues to gradually open up its economy, but it will not entertain any proposals from pirate taxis owners, a Cabinet minister has said.

Privately-run kombis have been banned since the lockdown was effected on 30 March, with only those that are a part of the Zupco fleet allowed to operate.

Speaking at a post-Cabinet meeting media briefing yesterday, Defence and War Veteran Affairs Minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, who also chairs the Ad Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Covid-19, said Government was willing to allow private transport to come on board as infections decreased and the country’s economy opened up.

“As we have been observing the number of infections coming under control and also the opening of quite a number of sectors, now we see a need to bring in other players. Originally, every private operator who wanted to operate had to register with Zupco but we realise that Zupco also has some challenges. There are now new players in the economy and therefore the need that we open up, especially inter-city transport,” she said.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Government was open to engagement with kombi operators should they follow the proper channels. The door however, remained closed pirate (mushika-shika) operators.

“Those that are legal whether Kombis, will be required to register with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development and we do hope that with that window those kombis will have to approach the relevant ministry and comply with the rules and regulations.

“They’re not being barred but only if they’re illegal because we see a lot of them that are not roadworthy. Some are not registered and always avoid to go through the official points. So we are ready to engage but not mushikashika, that one is a no, it’s still a nuisance. But for the kombis there’s an opportunity where they can approach the relevant authorities,” she said.