Amnesty International (AI) has called upon the Government of Zimbabwe to engage private transporters to find a solution to the transport crisis.
This comes after Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (ZUPCO) drivers and conductors reportedly downed tools over salary and COVID-19 allowance arrears dating back to 2020.
The strike comes at a time commuters are spending hours in queues waiting for transport as ZUPCO fails to cope with demand.
In a statement on Friday, 6 May, AI urged the Government to address the transport crisis urgently. It said:
Amnesty International calls upon the government to address this challenge by opening up the public transport sector to private players with proper guidelines to ensure public safety.
We, therefore, call upon the government and relevant stakeholders to come up with relevant solutions to alleviate the transport challenge.
They must consider engaging the private transporters and reach an amicable solution.
ZUPCO Workers’ Council chairperson Douglas Serimani told NewsDay Weekender that workers want half of their wages in US dollars. Said Serimani:
The employees have been requesting that they be given half of their salaries in United States dollars.
Salaries come late at ZUPCO and we had a works council meeting in Gweru on Wednesday, where employees implored the authorities to consider paying half of their salaries in US dollars and also ensure that they are paid on time.
The company also owes the employees six months of COVID-19 allowances which were not paid to them in 2020.
Management has, however, promised to address all those issues.
ZUPCO chief executive Evaristo Mandangwa said the issue of employees’ salaries is an internal issue that has nothing to do with the public.
On Wednesday, Cabinet admitted that some private players who joined the ZUPCO franchise withdrew their services due to non-payment of their dues.