Pirate taxis take advantage of rains to hike fares

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Harare (New Ziana) –Illegal transport operators (commonly known as mushikashika) in the capital made a killing on Tuesday as they took advantage of the rains that fell in the city to hike fares in the evening when people were returning home from work.

Routes such as Glenview, Kuwadzana, Mufakose, Budiriro, Dzivarasekwa which usually cost US$1 were being charged US$1.50 or US$2 as desperate commuters wanted to get home early.

Those who live out of Harare in places like Norton and Chitungwiza were being charged between US2 and US$2.50, also up from the usual $1 which they pay on a sunny day.

In interviews with New Ziana on Wednesday, commuters narrated the ordeal they went through, with some saying they got home around 10 pm as they could not bear paying the exorbitant fares and chose to wait for the madness to end, while others could not afford.

Mushikashika is a South African word probably Setswana or northern Sotho to refer to cunning behaviour, sly, scheming and dodgy character.

In the Zimbabwean context, it could appropriately mean the dodgy character of the small vehicles drivers who pick and drop passengers anywhere in the city, while playing cat and mouse games with the police, which appears to have given up on efforts to remove them from the roads.

“We want to maximise on these rains so that we meet our target early and start making our own money,” said Adrian Mutero who plies the City-Mufakose route.

“Also given the troubles we have with the police over our ban, we want to make hay while the sun shines.”

The government took advantage of the outbreak of COVID-19 to ban illegal commuter omnibuses and urged those operators interested to carry on with the business to join the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company where they would follow stipulated health and road safety measures.

Most commuters interviewed urged the government to speed up the resuscitation of ZUPCO to rescue the hard-pressed citizens, who have been at the mercy of the mushikashika for a long time.

They also urged Zupco to extend the time that its buses operate in order to protect the public from exploitation by the rogue pirate taxis.

The pirate taxis, mostly Honda Fits and Wishes, load up to 12 people instead of 5, thereby posing a great risk in the on-going fight against COVID-19 with zero social distancing and no wearing of face masks.

“I usually board the Zupco buses, but it was raining and by the time I got to the terminus, they had stopped operating and I had no option but paying two dollars to the mushikashika in order to get home. I think it will be good if they increase the buses,” said Vincent Xana from Norton.

It has become common for pirate taxis to increase fares whenever it rains and during holidays as they take advantage of the desperate travelling public to maximise on earnings.

The government has committed to end the plight of citizens through reviving ZUPCO, which had almost collapsed due to years of undercapitalisation and mismanagement.

New Ziana

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