Hundreds of commuters in Bulawayo were on Thursday left stranded after some Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) drivers staged a strike in protest over salary payment delays.
The kombi owners who contracted their vehicles to ZUPCO told CITE that the parastatal is supposed to pay them ZWL$7 200 per day but they are yet to receive their January payments.
One of the kombi owners who was among several who had gathered at Kelvin depot waiting to be addressed by the ZUPCO management said:
We have parked our cars because ZUPCO is breaching the contract we have with them.
We had agreed that we are going to receive our salaries within two weeks, but we are not getting the money as it is, we have not yet received our money for January.
They are giving us RTGS while our cars are also cashing in Rands and United States Dollars, all we want is the Government is to look into this issue so that we can also maybe receive half-pay as bond (Zimbabwe dollars).
She added that kombi owners want ZUPCO to release some of the money in foreign currency so that they can buy spares for their vehicles. She said:
Our employees are also blaming us for the delay in payment because it’s unfair to give someone RTGS which comes after one month when there is inflation in the country, how do we expect them to survive?
We are struggling to educate our children or even service our vehicles.
Another kombi owner said that ZUPCO was reneging on an agreement they initially entered into, to pay them after every two weeks. He said:
When we started we had an agreement that we are going to receive our salary every fortnight but now it goes past one month without us being paid.
The working conditions for our drivers are also not conducive because at the end of the day the driver will be tired and they expect us to employ two drivers but we can’t sustain that kind of arrangement.
We cannot afford to employ two drivers so at the end of the day we are now risking the lives of passengers.
When contacted for a comment by CITE, ZUPCO Chief Executive Officer, Everisto Madangwa, said he was in a meeting.