|Kombi drivers and owners demostrating at Zupco depot in Masvingotoday|
…kombi operators argue as strike hits Masvingo
Masvingo commuter omnibus operators contracted by the Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (Zupco) today, November 16, went on strike and pulled their vehicles off the road, complaining that the state-owned company had not paid them for up to the past three months.
Many drivers and kombi owners gathered outside the Zupco depot in Masvingo where they picketed against the regional Zupco management which they accused of corruption and taking the services of contracted operators for granted.
Some of the operators and drivers who agreed to speak to TellZim said the local depot of the passenger company was poorly managed, with management engaged in corruption.
“Other regions are paying their contractors well in time. But here in Masvingo, some of us haven’t been paid for up to three months. We play our part in meeting our contractual obligations but they don’t do their part. I am not able to pay my drivers’ salaries because my kombis that are running in the Zupco name are not being paid for,” said one operator who preferred anonymity.
Another one said the monopoly created by government in the commuter omnibus sector was not sustainable as government had proved again and again that it was not good at running businesses viably.
“These are the first signs that the monopoly they are creating will result in havoc. It’s only a few months that we signed the contracts and they are already defaulting on the terms that they themselves set. We are going nowhere; we must be allowed to operate independently as had always been the case before the lockdown,” he said.
As a result of the strike and the resultant shortage of kombis on the road, many commuters had to walk from as far as Victoria Ranch to town for work.
When contacted for comment, Zupco Masvingo depot manager Wiseman Ziweni said they were making efforts to break the impasse.
“The problem is that drivers refused to go to work demanding that all money owed to them be paid first. We are making arrangements to see if the money can be paid as a matter of urgency,” said Ziweni