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Twenty-SIX commuter omnibus operators have lost an urgent chamber application in which they wanted the court to order the Harare City Council to accept fines for their impounded vehicles and to interdict the local authority from forcing them to pay two weeks’ storage charges.

The operators, led by Mr Crispen Audrea, had filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court citing the City of Harare as the first respondent, public safety director as second and officer commanding traffic Harare Municipal Police as the third respondent.

In the application, the kombi operators argued that their vehicles had been impounded by the City of Harare for various offences and wanted them released.

Corporate services and housing director Mrs Josephine Ncube told the Environmental Management Committee recently that the kombi operators argued that the city was refusing to accept their fines and that they were being made to pay fines after 14 days during which they accumulated storage fees of US$17 a day.

She said they also alleged that they were issued with tickets without being informed of the offences they had committed.

Through its lawyers, Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni, the city denied that fines were being accepted after two weeks and argued that the only reason why release of the vehicles could have been delayed was because upon a vehicle being impounded there was a long vetting process which included stakeholders such as the police and the Zimbabwe National Road Authority.

The city said tickets were issued in circumstances where a commuter omnibus driver committed an offence and drives away to evade arrest.

In such a case, the lawyers argued, the municipal police detail would note the registration number of the commuter omnibus and the offence committed and once that vehicle was impounded later the owner would have to pay the fines stated.

The urgent application was dismissed with costs after the city argued that the vehicles in question had been in the city’s custody for more than a week hence there was no need for the applicants to bring the matter on an urgent basis.

Source : The Herald