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THE Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) has raised concern over the flouting of COVID-19 guidelines on Zupco buses where overloading due to transport problems has made it difficult for passengers to observe social distancing.

Government has banned private kombis not registered under the Zupco franchise from operating.

In a statement yesterday, PAZ president Tafadzwa Goliath said the association had noted with concern the open disregard for both World Health Organisation and national COVID-19 prevention protocols by the public transporter.

“While government efforts to resuscitate and reinstate Zupco as the backbone of the country’s mass public transport system are commendable, we feel the initiative is defeated by some of the infractions committed in broad daylight by the transporter,”

Goliati said.

“These include but are not limited to loading of passengers far beyond the numbers stipulated by government, inconsistent sanitising of passengers upon boarding as well as failure to wear face masks at all times by some defiant bus crews.”

He also expressed concern over failure by some Zupco buses to display registration plates, making it difficult to trace them in the event of an accident.

“They are only displaying fleet numbers and chassis numbers, which makes it difficult for one to trace them when road traffic accidents result in death or injury on victims who would want to institute formalities to claim some compensation.

“Through this brazen flouting of regulations, it is apparent that Zupco bus operators have done nothing to show they are any different from pirate taxi transporters known for practising the rules of the jungle.”

He added:

“As a passengers, we also wish to register our concerns that the national fleet remains inadequate and hardly able to meet the ever-present high demand for public transport throughout the country.

Contacted for comment, Zupco chief executive Evaristo Mudangwa said:

“I haven’t seen the statement, but I don’t agree with what has been said by PAZ. We don’t overload our buses, people will be wearing their masks when they board and we sanitise.”

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