Drivers and conductors in the country have formed an organisation called Zimbabwe Union of Drivers and Conductors (ZUDAC) to advocate for better working conditions in the drivers’ sector.
President of ZUDAC Fradreck Maguramhinga said that his organisation was formed this year in February with the aim of representing conductors, drivers of haulage trucks, buses, kombis, taxis as well as those who work in companies.
“There has been a lot of conflict between drivers, conductors and passengers. So we are going to make sure that drivers are well trained and given a model to follow so that they operate in a way that they become part of the hospitality industry,” said Maguramhinga.
The president of ZUDAC said that drivers were performing badly on the roads because they have no peace of mind due to poor working conditions in the transport sector.
“Drivers need a peace of mind in order for them to perform well. But, drivers in the country have no peace of mind due to poor working conditions. Drivers are working without any contracts and they (drivers) can be fired at any time without any benefits,” lamented Maguramhinga.
Maguramhinga said that most public transport vehicle drivers especially kombis and taxis in the country are subjected to work for more than 12 hours a day as they struggle to meet the targets that they are given by vehicle owners. Eight hours is the maximum working time allowed by the country’s labour law but, it seems transport operators are deliberately ignoring them.
“We want drivers to be given a basic salary like other workers because the issue of targets is straining them. Drivers are not being given adequate time to rest and this contributes to accidents on the road,” said Maguramhinga.
The ZUDAC president also said that his organisation was working on a documentary that will focus on injured drivers, widows of drivers and conductors as well as children who have been orphaned. The organisation has already started implementing some of their projects.
“We are also introducing an insurance policy and funeral cover for drivers and conductors because they are left to suffer on their own after they are involved in an accident. The vehicle and passengers are insured but, the driver and conductor are not,” explained Maguramhinga.
Maguramhinga said that his organisation will also help drivers to acquire papers such as defensive driving certificate and re-test and furthermore appeal to government to allow younger drivers who have not yet reached the prescribed age of 25 years to drive kombis that ply local routes.
“We will appeal to government to allow kombi drivers who are younger than the prescribed age of 25 years to be allowed only to ply local routes so that they gain practical work experience. As you know jobs are a problem nowadays and if we do not allow the young drivers to drive they will end up breaking the law by using mushikashika (illegal pick and drop points),” said Maguramhinga.