By Habakkuk Trust
The government ban of public transport vehicles to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus has given rise to pirate taxes in Filabusi Centre.
ZUPCO buses and kombis remain the only allowed mode of transportation. These buses go through fumigation process at least twice a day, passengers are sanitised at the entrance and masks are mandatory. However, the company is facing an acute shortage of buses and has left travellers stranded.
The situation has seen the resurgence of Honda Fit cars ferrying people to different destinations.
Habakkuk Trust staff members who recently travelled to Insiza District noted an illegal pirate taxi rank that has been set up just before Filabusi Business Centre next to the District Hospital. These pirate taxis are plying routes that include Khabanyama, Nkankezi, Skuta and Shabani.
The worrying trend is that Covid-19 preventative measures such as social distancing and mandatory wearing of facemasks are not being followed. Also observed was that private five-seater vehicles carry eight passengers in a single trip posing a risk of community infections.
Matabeleland South has the highest recorded cases of COVID-19 infections with most of its statistics attributed to the returnees from South Africa and Botswana. Habakkuk Trust Community Advocacy Action Teams in Insiza District have also raised concerns over the influx of South African registered vehicles in the District. However, the reluctance in complying with the lockdown regulations amongst citizens is raising fears of a possible catastrophe in the province.
Health education is needed in the district as there is a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 in rural areas.
There is need for government and its stakeholders to scale up awareness on the pandemic to rural areas and also share information in local languages. The government needs to also consider allowing other transport players to resume operations within COVID-19 protocols.