Home » Judicial » It’s Time We Arrest This Kombi Madness

I HELD tightly for dear life in the front seat of a full city-bound bedraggled kombi whose driver suddenly turned left to avoid a police roadblock near the National Heroes Acre on Monday morning.

So sharp was the turn that an unsecured handwoven basket atop the bus fell, splattering tomatoes, onions and dried beans on the tarmac.

Despite screams from passengers, the coarse and unpolished youthful driver accelerated the heap of rusting metal as he battled to steer himself away from the cops.

“Stop! Ndiburutsei hangu mukuwasha,” a middle-aged woman who was in this mistake of a vehicle shouted, to which she was told bluntly: “Tinyararireipo mbuya. Ndingamirire kusungirwa iyo R5 yamabhadhara. Kufa kufa chete hakutizwe kana zuva racho rasvika!”

To my surprise, there were two uniformed policemen in this kombi who never said anything, perhaps because they were enjoying a free ride.

Gentle reader, the journey into town in that very old kombi whose components appeared as if they were being held together by rust was unbearable.

Smoke would intermittently fill the commuter omnibus as if the exhaust pipe was connected somewhere inside.

On getting into town that same morning, news was filtering through that 10 souls had perished near Trek Filling Station – popularly known as Chinhamo – along Seke Road.

This comes barely two weeks after four-year-old Neil Tanatswa Mutyora of Rugare was run over and killed by a kombi fleeing police in downtown Harare.

Protracted cat-and-mouse games between police and kombi crews in the central business district are resulting in deaths.

Kombi crews appear to have become law unto themselves, sentencing pedestrians and passengers to death at will.

Taking a walk in Harare’s CBD is as if one has committed a crime.

Bribe-taking by policemen and their female counterparts is now being done openly.

“Nyika kwayavakuenda, hapana achaidzora kumawere, kunotyisaHakuna chakanaka, munhu wese akuda kuzvifadza achiri mupenyuKuzvifadza kwacho kuparadza nyika, vamwe vachisekerera nekusazivaVanoti musi waunofa, yaguma kwauri vanosara vosara vacheienda mberi” sang the late wordsmith Marshall Munhumumwe and his trailblazing Four Brothers.

True to the song, life in the city has become worse than in the jungle where only the fittest survive.

The surge in crimes involving kombis bids on authorities to take stern action against these people.

They are playing with people’s lives and nothing happens to them.

Our women are being raped and harassed by these kombi crews.

Our children are also being profaned by these very same people who have now become killers over night.

In the communities in which we live, commuter omnibus drivers and conductors are riding roughshod.

“Musamujairire mufana wacho ndewemakombi saka anoita zvese zvaanoda,” you hear people saying.

Some kombi operators are known to hire unlicensed people to drive their vehicles because they demand less in terms of pay.

And they brag about it.

“Ndagara muchipaireta shamwari. Vapfanha vasina zvitikinyani havanetse nekuti havadi shagi rakawanda. Unongomupa inokwana kutengera vasikana ice cream basa robva rarohwa,” you hear people saying in bars.

Aside from these kombi drivers, pirate taxi drivers have also become a menace.

They too appear to have licences to kill because they have no passenger insurance, neither do they have drivers licences.

Kungorova mota chete.

I think here society, especially the commuting public, is guilty of contributory negligence.

Why allow these people to do as they please with your lives?

Asking them to slow down invites even more speed or assault threats.

Safety should be the guiding principle in passenger service vehicles, but here in Zimbabwe the opposite seems to be true.

According to experts, passenger service vehicles (PSVs) are vehicles used in a passenger service (no matter how many seating positions they might have), vehicles with more than 12 seating positions (whether they’re used for hire or reward or not).

They include heavy motor vehicles with more than nine seating positions – for vehicle design and standards purposes (whether they’re used for hire or reward or not).

PSVs are vehicles used in an operation where carrying passengers is an integral part of the business.

The most obvious passenger service vehicles are buses, taxis and shuttles.

Rental vehicles are PSVs only if they have more than 12 seating positions, or if they’re hired by a passenger service licence holder to operate as a PSV.

The definition of passenger service also includes carrying passengers in a vehicle that can carry more than 12 people, including the driver, whether you’re carrying those passengers for hire or reward or not.

All PSVs have to meet the requirements that cover the design, construction and maintenance of all passenger service vehicles.

PSVs have to be inspected to make sure they meet the requirements before they can be registered.

They also need to be driven by licensed people with proper medical checks, passenger insurance and vehicle fitness.

But why people are being allowed to cut corners begs for many answers.

It’s time police step up to the plate.

Inotambika mughetto.

Source : The Herald