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Bulawayo's Renkini a white elephant as intercity buses shun it

by Staff reporter
10 Feb 2023 at 05:39hrs | Views
Renkini Bus Terminus was, for years, the nerve centre for Bulawayo's transport system with people intending to travel to other cities and towns trooping to the station to board buses.

Many others were dropped off at the terminus as well but today, the bus station is a pale shadow of its former self after several buses that ply intercity routes decided to shun it.

Located in Makokoba, the city's oldest suburb, Renkini Bus Terminus is a white elephant. Most inter-city buses which used to rank at the terminus, have abandoned the place and are now using undesignated areas in the city centre as pick up and drop off points, violating council by-laws.

The development has created congestion in the city centre, making it difficult for pedestrians to walk on pavements.
Some bus transporters who used to operate from an illegal bus rank along Leopold Takawira Avenue near Centenary Park have moved to another illegal rank along 4th Avenue behind Eveline High School.

The transporters who are shunning Renkini Bus Terminus, have moved together with touts and vendors, creating a chaotic scene in the city centre.

Last month, Bulawayo residents urged Government to consider extending the suspension of operating licences to errant public transport operators who flout traffic rules and regulations by picking and dropping passengers at undesignated places in Bulawayo.

This came after the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development had suspended operating licences of two Harare bus companies whose drivers were involved in reckless driving and speeding along the Harare-Nyamapanda Road leading to a crash which killed one person.

Rimbi Tours and Zebra Kiss buses were suspended from operating on all routes across the country. However, the suspension was lifted for Zebra Kiss after Government said the bus company had complied with its licence requirements.

The case was different for Rimbi Tours which decided to approach the courts for recourse, prompting authorities to await the outcome of the legal case before they could consider lifting the suspension.

When a Chronicle news crew visited Renkini Bus Terminus yesterday, the place was virtually empty in terms of buses save for two buses plying rural routes, which were waiting to load passengers.

Vendors operating from the place said the few buses still using the terminus are those plying rural routes.  They said inter-city buses rarely park at Renkini Bus Terminus.

"Buses no longer rank here and it looks like they have completely deserted this terminus. You only find a few buses plying rural routes if you come early in the morning," said Ms Sandra Chinembiri, a vendor.

"After 9 AM, the place will be empty as you can see now and this has also affected my business. Council must simply enforce its by-laws so that those buses can return to Renkini."

Another vendor, Mr Witness Ncube urged council to clamp down on errant bus operators using illegal pick up points in the city centre as that will help to decongest the city centre and help restore order. He said some buses just park for a few minutes, particularly when fleeing from police during routine operations.

"It's no longer like before when buses would only depart with a full load of passengers. As vendors we only make money in the morning when there would be some buses plying Binga and Tsholotsho routes, but once they leave, the place resembles a ghost town," said Mr Ncube.

Mr Kudakwashe Chipanga said most public lights at the Renkini are no longer working, a development which he also attributed to a decline in the number of buses using the facility at night.

"We used to have buses that arrive in the city late at night dropping passengers at Renkini, but it's no longer the case because the tower lights are no longer working and people fear being mugged," he said.

"The local authority should fix the public lighting system at the bus terminus, which could also be the reason why buses are now using undesignated points such as an area near Tredgold Building to pick up passengers at night."

Most of the inter-city buses going to Beitbridge and Masvingo who had turned Leopold Takawira Avenue near Centenary Park into their new bus rank have moved to 4th Avenue.  The transporters have constantly been involved in a cat-and-mouse game with municipal police and Zimbabwe Republic Police.

When Entumbane and Nkulumane bus termini were constructed, the aim was to decongest Renkini. The two facilities have since become white elephants as buses are also shunning them.

Buses, mostly those plying the Bulawayo- Harare routes have turned an area at Herbert Chitepo Street and 4th Avenue in the city centre into dropping off and pick up points.

Bulawayo police provincial spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube urged members of the public to use designated places to board buses and warned that repeat offenders at illegal ranks risk being jailed.

Source - The Chronicle