By Mandipa Masenyama
AN ongoing operation by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) aimed at ridding the country of illegal taxis, commonly referred to as mushikashika in reference to their disorderly manner of operating, has left thousands of commuters stranded as fares have been drastically hiked.
To add to the misery of commuters, stubborn mushikashika operators, who are playing cat and mouse with the police, are now charging fares in American dollars.
The illegal taxi operators are taking advantage of the shortage of government-funded Zupco buses, and the fact that its employees knock off earlier.
Despite commissioning new buses almost every month since last year, Zupco is yet to meet demand.
As of Wednesday last week, travelling between Ruwa and the Harare CBD cost US$1.50 up from US$0.50 while residents of Chitungwiza and areas around Glen View are now being forced to fork out US$2, up from US$1.
“Transport has been a challenge since most of this week,” said Joyce Munemo, who stays in Chitungwiza.
“Now that the government and the police are impounding illegal taxis, we are being forced to pay US$2 to get into town and also to go back home. Just a few days ago before the blitz, we used to pay $1 to get into town and we are now paying times two the money we used to pay.”
The blitz, which has been dubbed ‘Respect Other Road Users/ Remekedzai Vamwe Vanoshandisa Mugwagwa/ Hlonipani Abanye Abasebenzisa Umgwaqo’, has been extended to unregistered vehicles as well as street kids who control traffic at busy intersections and vendors.
“Government has failed us the citizens,” sayd said Ashley Matutu.
“Yes, they brought in Zupco buses, but the buses are failing to accommodate everyone because private cars are now expensive to board.
“We have been waiting here for the Zupco buses since 4pm and it is now 6pm. From Damafalls we used to pay $1 to get into town, but now the transport fee being demanded is $2,50,” .
According to the police, 700 motorists have so far been arrested.