Nation heeds lockdown measures

Capitalk Reporter |  1 year ago | local

Compliance with the enhanced Level Four lockdown announced by President Mnangagwa on Tuesday was largely in order yesterday with the whole of industry and commerce closing by 3.30pm as required and almost everyone managing to get home by the 6.30pm curfew.

The shorter business hours, designed to allow almost all workers and business people to make the curfew, and the longer curfew between 6.30pm and 6am which keeps all but essential workers indoors overnight and so slashes socialising, were two of the main measures announced by the President on Tuesday.

He also wanted 60 percent of workers to work from home and critically banned inter-city passenger transport, important considering the concentrations of infection in a handful of districts and the way that belt of infection has been spreading as people move around.

In Harare, the peak evening traffic jam moved up a couple of hours peaking at around 4pm as motorists hurried to beat the curfew, and the queues were building up at bus terminuses much earlier.

Public transporter ZUPCO did bring in its full fleet but the demand was high and buses were still moving after curfew, although the bulk of passengers had been coped with and the remainder, especially those needing two buses to get home, while going home after curfew were not that late.

However, the sudden withdrawal of the inter-city buses, did leave people stranded if they had been on a business or family errand, such as attending a funeral. 

At Mbudzi roundabout in Harare, which is usually a hive of activity with buses and private vehicles jostling to get passengers to Masvingo and Beitbridge, there were no buses in sight. Some haulage trucks and a few private vehicles were offering transport to travellers. The same was seen at Harare Showgrounds where travellers were waiting for transport to Bulawayo.

“Since morning we have been standing here hoping to get transport. There is not even one bus that came here and private cars are not carrying passengers. 

“The only vehicles offering transport are trucks and even then, they can only take a few people. I came to Harare on Monday and I now want to go back to Beitbridge where I stay and work,” said Ms Loveness Ganda.

Another traveller, who preferred anonymity, said: “I am travelling to Masvingo where I work and I have been waiting for more than an hour to get transport. Buses are not operating and I don’t know what I will do but I hope to get a lift soon.”

While shops closed at 3.30pm, and shopkeepers tend to be generally compliant with all laws, even the vendors were packing up at around that time. Generally with the enhanced lockdown keeping most business open, even if with shorter hours, and concentrating on cutting back on night movement that is difficult to monitor, business people were co-operating fully.

In the north of Mashonaland West, in the three districts of that province under an intensified local lockdown for two weeks before that was extended to the rest of the country, people and the authorities  practised what needed to be done.

Police were enforcing the inter-city movement ban at roadblocks along the Harare-Chirundu and Chinhoyi-Chegutu highways. But while uniformed officers patrolled Chinhoyi town enforcing the lockdown measures, illegal transporters found ways of loading passengers and circumventing the roadblocks along the major highways amid reports they were charging double the normal fares.