Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) kombi drivers on Wednesday parked their vehicles at Kelvin Depot in Bulawayo in protest over late payment of salaries.
Sources told Pindula News that while conductors, who are ZUPCO employees, have reported for work as usual, the drivers have parked their vehicles at the depot, which is the only depot that dispatches kombis in Bulawayo.
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The kombi drivers have not been paid their salaries for the last two months and last week many in Chitungwiza, Masvingo and some parts of the country went on strike, leaving thousands of commuters stranded.
ZUPCO regional operational manager Tito Chirau told The Herald last week that operators will soon start getting the payments and apparently, this has not materialised as ZUPCO kombi drivers in Bulawayo have embarked on job action. Said Chirau:
We are receiving a payment from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development tomorrow and then we will make all the payments to private operators. They should start expecting their money from Wednesday going forward.
We are encouraging our private operators to continue working as usual providing transport to our citizens.
There have been delays but they will all receive their payments by the end of this week.
Last week one kombi operator Artwell Huchu, said their drivers were demanding their salaries before resuming work and acknowledged drivers had not been paid for the last two months. He said:
We are the ones who pay our drivers after receiving our money from ZUPCO. It has been two months now without receiving our money from ZUPCO so that we can pay the salaries the drivers are demanding from us.
We have told them that we have not received anything from ZUPCO for the past two months, but they said they were not going to work until they receive their money.
The ZUPCO officials have sent us messages that our drivers have refused to work and it was up to us to talk to them, but the only way we can make them understand is after we have given them their salaries.
So currently we are waiting for the money to pay our drivers for them to resume work.
Some operators said their drivers get 15 per cent of the money they receive from ZUPCO and they have no capacity to pay salaries if they do not receive anything from the parastatal.
In 2020 the government directed all kombi operators to register with ZUPCO for them to continue operating.