President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s under-fire administration has said there would be no quick fix to transport challenges and urged people to walk to and from town in order to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Government alleges it was its efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the public transport sector that has resulted in the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) being the sole transporter for commuters and the banning of private transporters like omnibuses.
The Zupco bus fleet has become overwhelmed, leading to workers walking to and from major cities like Harare, Gweru, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Gweru.Speaking to the media at a Post Cabinet Briefing in Harare on Wednesday, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube acknowledged that people are being forced to walk long distances and some to wait for Zupco buses until times like 9pm but he maintained government was not going to open space to allow private transporters.
He added that walking from and to town was a cost that came with trying to control the spread of the coronavirus.
“It is our responsibility as government to make sure that we reduce the possibility of infections in the transport sector by making sure that those aspects of the transportation sector that force people to be close together are not allowed to operate.
“Every restriction comes with a certain cost. There is a cost in wearing a mask. Every behavior that is designed to protect your life will have some kind of costs. That is the cost of compliance and prevention. Sometimes the cost is inconvenience, you have to walk home.
“The levels of infections have spiked up so we should begin to be more vigilant so it would not be a good idea to immediately open up the space,” Ncube said.
On Wednesday, Zimbabwe recorded 4375 confirmed coronavirus cases, 1238 recoveries and 91 cases.
This comes at a time when Zimbabwe is being buffeted by its worst economic crisis in over a decade, including scarcity of basic commodities like mealie meal and fuel. Prices of basic goods gallop every week as the value of the Zimbabwean dollar continues to tumble, pushing official annual inflation to more than 1000%.
Amid the worsening economic crisis, public anger against Mnangagwa who succeeded late former president Robert Mugabe in a military coup in November 2017 before winning disputed elections in 2018 is rising.