By Rex Mphisa
There is a looming route war between Beitbridge-based Zimbabwean Cross-border Transport Association (ZCTA) and South Africa’s Beitbridge Taxi Association (BTA) after the groups clashed over passengers.
It has, like South Africa’s taxis route wars, an ugly history of being bloody.
Members of the BTA who ply the Beitbridge Border Post (SA side) to Musina taxi route accuse ZCTA members of taking away their business by ferrying passengers
on their route, a 15km stretch between the SA side of Beitbridge border post and Musina.
They say Zimbabweans are reneging on a 2012 agreement to carry only goods, leaving passengers to the South Africans who earn R20 a trip per passenger.
On the other hand, ZCTA members say to stay afloat, they now have to carry passengers because of low amounts of goods on the route as numbers of Zimbabwean
shoppers to South Africa continue to dwindle.
ZCTA members have been taking more than their fair share, loading passengers on the Zimbabwean side and even inside the border post on their way to Musina,
denying their South African colleagues business.
This has not gone down well with BTA members, who throughout the week mounted roadblocks on the once lucrative 15km stretch.
The South Africans demanded amounts ranging between R1 000 and
R3 000 from any Zimbabwean vehicle belonging to ZCTA, in a punitive counter-measure. At times they forced passengers out and onto their vehicles.
Several Zimbabwean vehicles last week were stopped and cash demanded from drivers whose cars had passengers.
Some innocent travellers were caught up in the fracas.
“We have that understanding, which is an agreement. We must only carry goods on the SA side and not passengers.
“South Africans actually sold their trailers to some of our members when we sealed the deal.
“We must not carry any passengers on their soil, but some of our members are losing focus and becoming selfish,” chairman of ZCTA Takavingei Mahachi said.
“We have among us some people who are not our members and do not understand the consequences of such actions and South Africans could be justified in demanding money from people who carry passengers on their route.”
He advised cross-border shoppers to use BTA transport to avoid being caught up in a crossfire when the taxi operators in SA take the law into their own hands.
A member of BTA who spoke to The Standard said members of his association were happy to carry passengers although carrying goods was more lucrative.
He said they applied for permission to demonstrate against the unfair treatment and they would search all cars carrying passengers and demand cash from them
although it could get worse.
Mahachi condemned some members of his association for causing problems on the route, saying if managed professionally, there was enough share for everyone.