People walk along a street in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 27, 2020. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday announced a 21-day national lockdown starting from Monday as part of the measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuliang)
People walk along a street in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 27, 2020. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday announced a 21-day national lockdown starting from Monday as part of the measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuliang)

Zimbabwe intends to extend the ban on privately-owned commuter omnibuses beyond the COVID-19 lockdown to bring sanity to the public transport system.

Taxis and commuter omnibuses, locally known as kombis, have been barred from operating since the lockdown started on March 30 in a bid to ensure social distancing.

State-owned Zupco buses and private-owned buses under the Zupco franchise are the only mode of transport allowed to ferry passengers, a situation that has seen some passengers stranded with no transport to and from work.

Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo told the Sunday Mail newspaper that there is no guarantee that privately owned commuter omnibuses will be allowed back on the roads after the lockdown.

“This is the trend in almost all countries. This informality about urban transport creates chaos in the CBD area. We are only going to see kombis on the road through Zupco for now, until we deal with COVID-19.”

Moyo said the move is part of government’s elaborate plans to de-congest urban centers and modernize the public transport system.

“So the plan is to make sure that we strengthen urban bus transportation through Zupco so that we can bring sanity to the operations,” he said.

Zimbabwe is currently on level 2 of the national lockdown which permits some formal businesses to resume operations under supervision.

Inter-city travel remains banned, as well as public gatherings of more than 50 people.

Announcing a lockdown extension on Saturday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said only Zupco buses are allowed on the roads.

“Only Zupco buses and Zupco contracted commuter omnibuses with the stipulated number of passengers, and adhering to the sanitization and disinfection regulations will be permitted to operate,” Mnangagwa said.

Last week government urged private commuter omnibus operators to register with Zupco in order to resume operations during the COVID-19 lockdown period. Enditem

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