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Call for women-only Zupco buses

Commuters mill around a bus terminus in Harare

Call for women-only Zupco buses

By Edward Mukaro

A local organisation has called for the introduction of women-only taxis and buses, as the nation’s transport system, anchored by the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO), struggles to meet the number of commuters, amidst the pandemic.

The government banned the operation of private transport companies, creating a highly criticized monopoly of public transporter, Zupco. However, with the COVID- 19 induced curfew, long winding queues have characterised bus termini across the country’s major cities, with Harare and Bulawayo mostly affected.

In a statement, the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) said, “We amplify the transport crisis and its intersection with women and girls’ rights and COVID- 19. We continue to raise concerns on the creation and sustenance of the ZUPCO transport monopoly during a pandemic and in a context where there is inadequate transport to meet the needs of the commuting public.

“We raise concerns regarding the restructuring of the public transport system, which has weakened the fabric of the mass public transit system remarkably.  “Against the backdrop of the pandemic, this move has not only posed devastating effects on infection control for COVID- 19 but also on the safety and security of women and girls.

“We, therefore, recommend the introduction of women-only taxis and buses, so as not only to improve the accessibility of public transport, but also ensure the safety and security of women and girls in the public transport system,” stated WCoZ.

The non-governmental body also called for stern control measures at bus termini as there was growing ‘laxity’, which is a dangerous component as bus termini and other pick-up points are mostly overcrowded.

“In addition, it has been noted the bus pick-up and stations are persistently characterised by overcrowding with no social distancing and public sanitization support measures.

“Furthermore, we continue to decry bus shortages and delays in transit times, which consequently is placing communities and women directly in the face of illegal mushika-shika, where incidents of rape and other forms of sexual offenses are becoming rampant.

“We urge enforcement of public health guidelines and health protocol in the public transport system.”

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