The Sunday Mail
RANK MARSHALS are colluding with corrupt police and municipal officers to pocket an estimated US$1 million monthly through unauthorised taxes at bus termini in and around Harare, bus and commuter omnibus operators have said.
Harare is home to at least five associations representing bus and commuter omnibus operators, boasting approximately 800 members.
Under the unauthorised taxation, rank marshals are reportedly collecting up to US$240 000 per month from each association, bringing the cumulative figure to about US$1 million monthly.
Zimbabwe Union of Drivers and Conductors (ZUDAC) head of operations Mr Pious Chidzenga said: “Each driver is compelled to pay US$2 for every one of the five daily trips they make into the rank. Simple multiplication will tell you that rank marshals pocket a substantial US$10 per driver each day. This exploitative practice persists over a month, with drivers contributing US$300 per month individually. When multiplied by the 800 members of ZUDAC alone, the rank marshals accumulate US$240 000 monthly. This figure represents just one association out of the more than five operating within Harare,” he said.
Addressing stakeholders at a public transport stakeholders meeting in the capital last week, police officer commanding Harare province Commissioner Wonder Tembo said they will soon launch an operation to eradicate this criminal syndicate.
“As officer commanding Harare, I want to mention that as police, we don’t condone such kind of behaviour that is prevailing at various bus ranks. We are having running battles with people who claim they own certain ranks. I have tasked my assistant commissioners to sit down with Harare City Council officials to come up with an operation to tame this menace,” he said.
Commissioner Tembo said some of the rank marshals abuse the name of senior political figures.
“We are aware that many of these rank marshals hide behind political parties, but we have never received a call from any political party or Government questioning why we have arrested certain troublemakers.
“I urge you (council) to also come up with an operation and as law-enforcement agents, we will support you and we will come in our numbers to help you. We don’t want to be the initiators of the job that is supposed to be done by you,” he said.
He urged operators to desist from paying rank marshals. “Don’t give them money and if they insist, we are just a call away. Don’t be intimidated, the law will take its course.”
Harare Mayor Cllr Jacob Mafume conceded that rank marshals have assumed power at council bus stations but said action will be taken soon. “Early next month, we are going to take over the ranks and restore order,” he said.