Transport nightmares in rural communities

Citizens in some rural communities are stranded and unable to travel to attend any emergencies as a result of the government ban on public transport operations. Commuter omnibuses remain prohibited from operating under lockdown regulations stipulated in S.I. 99 of 2020.

The impact of travel restrictions has been felt deeply in communities where locals are dependent on commuter omnibuses to travel from one point to another. At the beginning of the initial lockdown, the government banned all public transport operations and allowed ZUPCO to be the only mode of transportation.

The transport situation has been worsened by the absence of ZUPCO buses in rural as operators shun the routes due to the deplorable state of roads.

Habakkuk Trust Community Advocacy Action Teams in various parts of Matabeleland have reported that community members have been facing serious challenges accessing transport to attend to emergencies such as funerals and medication for chronic ailments. The Action Teams have also called on the government to consider their challenges by introducing mandatory measures to ensure that public transport ply their routes.

Umzingwane Ward 5 villagers reportedly walk to a hiking spot along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge highway. The same is happening in Insiza Ward 2 where villagers walk to the high way to catch buses from Masvingo. Villagers from Matobo South are also stranded as they have no means to get to Maphisa to catch a bus to Bulawayo. In Bulilima Ward 10 and Nkayi Ward 5, villagers are reportedly bemoaning the increasing prices of basic commodities as local retailers take advantage of unavailability of transport for people to access cheaper commodities elsewhere.

The prevailing transport situation has left families who rushed to their rural homes under the notion that the lockdown was only three weeks stranded.

The situation in urban areas has seen an acute shortage of ZUPCO buses, forcing citizens to endure long winding queues waiting for transport. Social distancing is totally disregarded in these queues.

Habakkuk Trust urges the government to provide ZUPCO buses to ply rural routes to facilitate essential movement in rural communities.

Source: Habakkuk Trust

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