Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

Inter-city travellers violate lockdown

by Staff reporter
14 May 2020 at 07:29hrs | Views
A NUMBER of people are increasingly travelling between cities and provinces without exemption in violation of level two lockdown regulations banning inter-city travel.

Some Zimbabweans continue to travel at will and despite the shortage of transport, hiking spots are a hive of activity and haulage trucks are the new public service vehicles for illegal travel.

A news crew observed that scores of people were stranded at hiking spots along major roads leading out of Bulawayo yesterday and on Tuesday.

The busiest road was the Bulawayo-Beitbridge road, followed by the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road and Bulawayo-Plumtree road.

A number of people were carrying a lot of luggage for resale, while some were only carrying personal belongings.

There were pirating vehicles and most people relied on haulage trucks, which are the transport of choice at the moment on highways.

A bed cabin behind the driver's seat in a haulage truck, according to one driver, can accommodate more than 10 passengers, while some people even volunteer to sit in trailers. There was no social distancing at hiking spots as people scrambled and jostled to be the first to secure a ride.

Travellers and touts alike, seemed oblivious of the dangers in failing to uphold social distancing etiquette in public spaces. What is most worrying about the intercity and inter-provincial travel is that so far only Matabeleland North, Bulawayo, Harare, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West provinces have recorded Covid-19 cases.

Uncontrolled travel risks having the virus spreading to other parts of the country such as Matabeleland South, Midlands, Masvingo, Mashonaland Central and Manicaland Provinces which do not have confirmed cases so far.

Travellers who spoke to the news crew said they were pushed by multiple factors to embark on journeys despite the prevailing lockdown and ban of non-essential and intercity travel. Mrs Dorothy Malaba of Kingsdale suburb said she was forced to travel to Gwanda to sell wares and buy amacimbi (mopani worms) which she resells at a profit in the city to sustain her family.

"I have to go. I cannot sit at home and watch my children starving. I must find any means to feed them and for me, going to the rural areas to buy things for resale is the trade I know. Right now, amacimbi are in season and I will not stop. Otherwise me and my family will die way before corona reaches us. Hunger will have dealt with us," she said.

Mr Nkululeko Ndlovu who stays at a flat in the CBD, but works in Esigodini said getting to work on time is now impossible.

"Some of us are genuine travellers and this situation makes things very difficult. I work at Esigodini Hospital and I used to commute or sometimes drive there daily from Kensington. My car has a problem and these days I am based in town at a flat, so I commute to the hospital on a daily basis. It's a struggle to find transport," said Mr Ndlovu.

Another traveller, Ms Grace Mpofu said she visited her family before the lockdown but felt she had overstayed her welcome, hence she was travelling back to Victoria Falls.

"I am going to my house in Chinotimba. I had visited my children. But you see, my son has a wife so they need their space. I have been with them for the past six weeks. They were wishing me to stay longer but I also have a home to run, and this lockdown seems to be a bottomless pit, so it is better that I find a way home," said Mrs Mpofu.

Ms Maidei Choga from Nkulumane 12 had to travel as she was bereaved, but was struggling to secure transport to take her straight to Zvishavane.

"I lost a sister. As it is, I'm travelling for the funeral in Zvishavane. I only got transport going as far as Filabusi and so I have no choice but to board with the hope that I will get transport to connect to my destination," she said.

Director of Disease Epidemiology in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Portia Manangazira called for people to avoid all non-essential travel as a means to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

"People must remember that the virus does not move. It is people that spread it through movement and contact. The more we stay in one place, stay at home, avoid unnecessary travel, the safer. People must respect the presidential decree and remember that we are still under lockdown. Yes, some sectors of the economy and industry were opened up to help protect our economy. However, that does not mean that people are not in danger. We still have some provinces that have not recorded any positive cases of Covid-19 and such intercity and inter-provincial travel bears the threat of spreading the virus," said Dr Manangazira.

She urged public transport operators to disinfect buses and ensure that strict hygiene measures were followed at all times.

"We call on those public transporters operating at this time that they ensure that high hygiene levels are maintained by passengers and by themselves all the time. We encourage regular disinfection of buses and if possible, temperature checking as well.

"The public must observe the rules on wearing masks in public, and use hand sanitisers regularly and wash hands thoroughly," said Dr Manangazira.

Source - chronicle