51 Zimbabwe bus drivers arrested as transport crisis bites

Fifty-one bus drivers were arrested for overcharging this weekend in the Zimbabwean capital Harare as riot police were brought in to control crowds of desperate travellers, official media reported Sunday.

51 Zimbabwe bus drivers arrested as transport crisis bites
Fifty-one bus drivers were arrested for overcharging this weekend in the Zimbabwean capital Harare as riot police were brought in to control crowds of desperate travellers, official media reported Sunday.

Thousands of would-be travellers were stranded at Harare's main railway station, unable to catch trains for the holiday weekend, according to the Sunday Mail.

Fuel shortages and a government directive to slash bus fares have contributed to a critical shortage of transport in Zimbabwe, which is trapped in its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980.

The 51 bus drivers were arrested on Saturday, according to the Sunday Mail.

"They have been forced to pay 40,000 Zimbabwe dollar fines and some will be prosecuted for repeatedly overcharging," a police spokesman said.

"Some of the vehicles are also being impounded as we have detected faults which make them unroadworthy," according to Inspector James Sabawu.

But bus drivers and owners say they cannot reasonably slash fares because they have to buy their fuel on the black market, where a litre of petrol now costs up to 400,000 dollars - more than six times the price set by the government.

We have no access to cheap fuel, one bus driver told the Sunday Mail.

Police are angry that some commuters are unwilling to incriminate their bus drivers, according to the report.

Meanwhile passengers at the main Mbare Msika terminus spoke of waiting for hours in the vain hope of securing transport for the four-day break.

In at least one case police forcibly removed passengers from an overloaded bus, according to the Sunday Mail.

There was also little joy for would-be train travellers. One dejected man told the Sunday Mail he had slept at the main train station for two nights to try to board a train to Rusape, around 170 kilometres from Harare, but without success.

Railway tickets were mostly only available on the black market at more than four times the gazetted fares, the report said.

On Monday, Zimbabwe marks Heroe's Day to honour fighters killed in the 1970s war for independence. The country is due to celebrate Defence Forces Day on Tuesday.

The holidays come amid worsening shortages of power, water and basics like bread and milk in many towns and cities across this once-prosperous southern African nation.

DPA
Last Mod: 12 Ağustos 2007, 16:46
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