COVID 19Health

Congestion at public transport terminuses impede the fight against COVID-19-ZDI

Commuters ignore social distancing and other safety precautions as they await for transport at a bus terminus

By Nyasha Mutena

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) has lamented the congestion at bus terminuses which they said is an impediment in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

This was unveiled in the Access to Public Health Monitoring Report for the month of July, which was conducted by ZDI. The public policy think tank said the lack of social distancing during peak hours had become a serious health concern.

Following the measures enforced by government to contain the spread of COVID-19, the cities of Harare and Bulawayo are experiencing congestion in roads leading to the central business centers; this has seen long queues at ZUPCO bus terminuses with no evidence of social distancing while experiencing pressure at illegal mushika-shika terminuses.

“The shortage of public transport in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare has been threatening to derail efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, as commuters are hardly practicing any social distancing while in queues for buses. Prior to the pandemic, there were more 50 000 commuter omnibuses operating in the country, the number has currently depleted by more than 80%.

“Commuters have been hit by shortage of public transport in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare and second largest city, Bulawayo amid COVID-19 pandemic since public transport is banned. There is a high possibility that people may contract and spread the virus as they are using private transport where many people are often seen bundled up in pick-up trucks, lorries and illegal ‘kombis’ disregarding all the COVID-19 safety precautions of physical distancing and sanitization,” noted the report.

ZDI took a swipe at recent gatherings by members of the Johane Marange Apostolic sect in Manicaland citing the gathering as a potential spreader of the virus.

“Lack of compliance to measures by those in power has also been ascribed to the spread of the pandemic. On the ban of public gatherings, ZANU PF has been holding political meetings with more than 40 participants while the Johane Marange church also held their annual conference physically in Manicaland. This means the two parties were not in compliance with lockdown measures which prohibited public gatherings and only allowing 30 people at funerals,” said ZDI.

The think tank urged the Government to decentralize the accessibility of vaccines and to employ more health professionals so as to decongest the current long queues at various vaccination centres.