GOVERNMENT moves to ban kombi imports

Kombi Rank
Kombi Rank

Government has resolved that no commuter omnibus will be allowed on the roads come 2016, and will soon institute measures to stop importation of such vehicles.

The Sunday Mail understands some private players have already been commissioned to run high-volume buses that will replace the omnibuses.

Engineers are also surveying major roads in Harare’s central business district with a view to constructing a ring-road that will detour heavy vehicles from the CBD.

The two approaches – which both feed into the National Transport Policy – are among Government’s priorities in decongesting urban centres and modernising mass transportation.

Transport, Communications and Infrastructure Development Minister Obert Mpofu told The Sunday Mail that his ministry would assemble a committee to enforce the ban on omnibus imports.

He said the same committe would regulate public transport vehicles already on the roads until they are phased out.

“We are working with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. In fact, it is top of our agenda. We are working to have them (omnibuses) phased out within the stipulated timeframe. Other major stakeholders are also seized with this issue and the process is now at an advanced stage.

“I want to state that we are committed to decongesting the city. Our stakeholders are working towards a more sustainable transport system in urban centres. We are also consulting as well as surveying all roads in the city so that we begin constructing the ring road.”

The Sunday Mail has gathered that some private players who were running a pilot run with high-volume vehicles dubbed “metro buses” had been cleared to import more such transporters to replace omnibuses.

The “metro buses” will ply major routes and will be operated by a limited number of companies.

It could not be immediately established how many such buses have already been imported.

Analysts supported the proposed system, while advocating additional measures such as urban tollgates, by-pass roads and modern traffic control regulations.

Mr Atkinson Munemo – a transport and logistics expert with Whelson Transport in Harare – said: “We cannot have one solution. There is need to enforce a total ban on commuter omnibuses from the CBD seeing that they are the main reason behind the chaos.

“The authorities should also consider additional measures such as park and ride facilities. This is basically a parking lot where motorists park their vehicles outside the CBD before taking a shuttle bus into the CBD to their respective destinations. In addition, by-pass roads should be constructed to detour traffic from the city centre.”

Mass transport expert Mr Pride Muyambo weighed in saying: “The solution also lies in taxing road users. This will have the double effect of discouraging unnecessary use of urban roads while it is also a source of revenue. Other countries have used the system effectively and I do not see why Zimbabwe should not follow suit.”

Commuter omnibuses were introduced in the 1990s to complement the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) which was facing viability problems.

However, regulating their operations has been a nightmare for the authorities as numbers swelled while at the same time Zupco’s fortunes waned.

According to Harare’s urban planning report of 2012, over 4 550 individuals were registered as commuter omnibuses owners.

The National Transport Policy states that the design of most roads in urban areas does not conform to the rapid increase in traffic volumes.

Other road-related problems — the policy adds — include inadequate parking space, lack of maintenance and room for future expansion, vandalised or lack of proper shelters and lighting at bus stops and termini.

It proposes by-passes, ring roads and truck inns in major urban areas to cater for through traffic as an alternative to radial roads that start from the CBD.

The policy promotes “the use of high capacity transport modes such as trains/articulated buses which economically and efficiently use road space and gradually phasing out capacity less than 26 seats”.


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  • che_guevhara

    It is clear that not only are commuters a danger on our roads but they also have squeezed out the like of ZUPCO who cannot afford to run against small operators. A large bus needs full ovccupancy to run efficiently and this would be the case if there were no commuters on the road threaening other motorists and bus drivers. We applaud the minister for taking a tough stance. Perhaps it would be enough to institute a ban on new commuter imports though instead of banning the ones already in operation from the streets.
    There is no obsevance of the law by these operators whoare only supposed to be operating within 140km from the city they are registered to. However we find commuters going from Harare to Bulawayo or Chiredze or Mutare unchecked or simply just paying a fine.
    Let us make real operators viable by agreeing with the minister. Take time back 20 years and we will see the big names in a once thriving formal industry now either have their bakes against the wall or vaenda kumusha.
    Everyday we see thes scourge of commutors overtaking into oncoming traffic , touts abusing women and jumping red lights to name just a few.
    The more we formalise this economy the better as we would like to see everyone as contributors instead of being reliant on a dangerous lawless system that does not contribute financially to this country.
    It would be easy for the authorities not to issue licenses to repeat offenders in the comuter world but a mixture of corruption and politics always seems to ensure their sins are washed away.
    Well done cde Minister, you are acting in the long term interests of this nation. Now you also crack down on emergency taxis which seem to be the latest upstart !

    • operator

      My friend gvt should be concentrating on creating employment not rendering those in employment jobless. lets work on reviving our economy 1st not on protecting private players as that truely becomes the breeding ground for corruption you are wallowing about. this is a free economy and everyone must have equal and fair play from gvt. why do you want to be protected from another legal operator. passengers must have the freedom to choose the mode of public transport they want to use inspite of the distance they are travelling – so why is that distance limit there in the 1st place – we do not want protectionist policies, they also breed corruption and you might be one of those who is advocating it thereby by fanning corruption yourself just for your interest. Why are those protectionist policies not in South Africa or Zambia where there are kombi and buses operating and competing fairly.

      Not all kombis are non compliant, those that are non compliant are the ones
      that should be banned together with pirate taxis that do not contribute
      anything to fiscus. Compliant kombis are contributing a lot to fiscus
      through zinara licences, tollgates, spares, fuel, tyres, govt taxes
      & payee for their employees to name but a few contributions. you should actually be urging government to ban illegal pirate operators
      as well as those kombi operators that are not complying with the law
      not to advocate for a blanket ban.

      The fact that some kombi operators have an association means a lot about their zeal to bring order just that this is a sector that has been neglected a lot aided by non enforcement by the enforcers (gvt included) owing to corruption. we
      should instead work on empowering these associations to self regulate

  • Sugarfoot01

    This is a massive opportunity for broad-based black economic empowerment, if the government needs it to be. We do not need private companies to do this. Once private players get involved as envisaged, this will be another platform for corruption and a fixed revenue stream for those few private players. Instead, the City of Harare must establish a business unit to provide mass public transport within Harare, the Bulawayo City council must do the same in Bulawayo, etc. That way these metros have a revenue source. Get the Kombi owners (associations) to partner the City in such an operation. Kombis do not need to be scrapped, just recommend that they all upgrade to quantum type vehicles and get them to be operate on the feeder routes that supply the City mass public transport routes (trunk busses wont go everywhere).

  • Sugarfoot01

    Mass public transport in cities should be provided by the Metropolitan Council. The only challenge in Zim is, the Metros are run by opposition political parties…

  • wilfred i mabika

    Gud idea but it only remains when this will be implemented. How about all those who earn a living from the kombi business. Basa rinenge rapera.?

  • silungisn

    To come to the facts…the commuter omnibus are the one who causes a shortage money in Banks….they do not Bank daily takings…the majority of them…and they are the who refuse to accept Bond Coins…and their workers have no class to handle customers…no customer care from these people…Windies are a problem and their Drivers………….these Kombies must be must be taken away the roads…………

  • MA ONE

    I hope that before they ban the Combis alternative work would be provided for the employers, drivers and windis. Maybe they can also copy what South Africa did by giving shares in these metro buses for all those combi operators. As I
    foresee another disaster in making where by trying to introduce another system many families would be rendered destitute as a result. Proper research is required before implementation.

  • Peter

    Decongesting the city centre is a noble idea but may the powers that be spare a thought for the livelihoods of the kombi drivers and their assistants. These guys have already been hardened by their profession and the constant run ins with the authorities such that if you throw them out of employment they will not hesitate to employ any other means to fend for their family. Anything can happen.
    My suggestion is lets have our economy firing again and then we can have all these concepts and proposals, including the establishing of a new city in Mt Hampden.

  • rollingstone dididi

    what about our 2.2million jobs target as part of zmasset agenda.

  • Zimbabwe United

    Commenting on the report that the Harare Council plans to ban the breeding of chickens in urban areas, l commented that,

    “If we are a self-respecting nation, we need to get out of the Murambatsvina mode that does not proceed from first providing alternatives to solutions already crafted by the country’s citizens as a way of sustainable economic self-sustenance. ”

    Now my question is, does anyone take note that the decision by the Ministry of Transport amounts to destroying assets built by citizens during the painful years of sanctions? Why impose another set of domestic sanctions on our own citizens? Why? Is it not true that the economy has suffered under sanctions? Then what help is government extending to a nation recovering from sanctions? Do we have to add on to the burden of the sanctions?

    I think this matter needs to be taken by lawyers before the Constitutional Court. Only it will answer the question whether destroying economic assets at the stroke of a pen is one way of advancing the right to life, advancing equal opportunity, promoting citizens economic welfare. There is certainly work for the Concourt.