With a staggering average collection of over US$1 million each month CBD rank marshals have become a strong factor in Harare’s transport sector.
The rank marshals are allegedly working with corrupt ZRP and municipal officers to control the hundreds of buses in the CBD.
The system is such as well-oiled mechanism such that errant elements are quickly corralled by either of the two enforcement personnel.
As a way of emphasizing the futility of rebelling an arrested victim is dragged through the lawful system with every conceivable charge being enforced.
A Sinister Web
Pious Chidzenga, head of operations for the Zimbabwe Union of Drivers and Conductors (ZUDAC), recently explained the complex web.
“Each driver is compelled to pay US$2 for every one of the five daily trips they make into the rank.
“Simple multiplication will tell you that rank marshals pocket a substantial US$10 per driver each day.
“This exploitative practice persists over a month, with drivers contributing US$300 per month individually.
“When multiplied by the 800 members of ZUDAC alone, the rank marshals accumulate US$240 000,” he said.
They are more than five such associations operating in Harare’s CBD.
At a time Harare Council is lamenting about financial challenges the presence of such a lucrative low-hanging fruit is shocking.
Rank marshals are a by-product of the country’s imploded economy which has translated into a poor and informal transport system.
The failure of the state-owned Zimbabwe United Passenger Company(ZUPCO) has given birth to a variety of privately owned commuter buses.
These buses largely operate on the fringes of the law and road ethics.
They avoid lawful ranks, override road rules and essentially operate in a cutthroat manner.
This has resulted in the continued failure by authorities to contain them and bring order to the roads.
After multiple operations both the ZRP and Municipal police have essentially failed to control the kombis.
However, they are not giving up.
Harare’s ZRP Officer Commanding, Commissioner Wonder Tembo says they will be launching another operation soon.
“As Officer Commanding Harare, I want to mention that as police, we don’t condone such kind of behaviour prevailing at bus ranks.
“We are having running battles with people who claim they own certain ranks.
“I have tasked my Assistant Commissioners to sit down with Harare City Council officials to come up with an operation to tame this menace,” he said.
However, with past cases for study its very possible that this will be just another fateful try.
The Harare kombi Mafia is here to stay.