Of Coffee With Mushikashika

If you were having coffee with me I would welcome you to my socially distanced corner of the internet and offer you a beverage of your choice as long as its Ginger Tea cause that is all I have at the moment or maybe some hot water unless you prefer to wait for it to cool down while we talk…

So today is the first day of school for the rest of the learners while non-exam classes resumed a week ago. The non-exam learners will be attending school on a rotational schedule of alternating days so classes aren’t packed to ensure social distancing. There’s peace and quiet and thank heavens can catch a break from episodes of Peppa Pig which had been keeping the younings busy during the lockdown induced extended holiday from May.

Organising the school run drop was a bit of a logistical nightmare especially considering how we are still in Level 4 lockdown compounded by the current clampdown on illegal pirate taxis..

Kids in a pirate taxi Image From Twitter

If you have dropped by these tangle of words I have shared a bit about the transport blues. It all started when lockdown first begun and the government used Covid Regulations as an opportunity to ban private taxis which had long been a menace and difficult control as they flagrantly violated rules and regulations.

The plan was to make ZUPCO, a state-owned entity, the sole public transport regulator and any private individuals wishing to operate would do so under the ZUPCO franchise. In theory, it’s a very logical way to bring sanity to the public transport industry…

In practise, the ZUPCOs aren’t nearly enough to handle the volumes of commuters especially with lockdown regulations and a 6pm Curfew as everyone rushes to be home on time.. (but to be honest I don’t think people are behaving like we are still in Level 4 lockdown and the curfew are just vibes as those with their own cars can be seen to be out and about after hours and with some areas enjoying a thriving night life)

Commuters waiting for ZUPCO at Copacabana terminus Harare

Former public transport operators do not seem keen on joining the ZUPCO franchise for reasons best known to themselves and not only that it screams State Monopoly, with the other month ZUPCO staff being on strike citing they hadn’t been paid in two months, who knows what other challenges they face, and in such a gap, thrives the mushikashika.

Mushikashika
Mushikashika Credit The Standard

Mushikashika is the street name for pirate taxis that ply various routes carrying passengers illegally and are usually low fuel consumption cars such as Honda Fit, Toyota Wish, Toyota FunCargo which tend to have a compact look with a spacious interior.

I am not sure where the name came from but in the Zulu language umshika-shika means to hustle or work hard or struggle and this encompasses the all-in-a-days-work life of the pirate taxi industry where they work hard and hustle to get passengers and the struggle with the police….

The police have been on an operation to end the scourge of these pirate taxis for contravening aspects of the traffic law exacerbated by the recent spat in robberies and rapes committed by criminal pirate taxis. Previously when a pirate taxi was caught the driver would pay the fine or risk having the car impounded but now they have extended the fine to include the passengers…

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that sometimes it feels as if those in charge just wake up and decide: “hmmm how do we make life difficult for people today“. Oh I know lets open schools but maintain a level 4 lockdown and only exempt buses carrying school kids for intercity travel.. wait what if my kid is too young to travel unaccompanied, hmmm anyone with a kid I can borrow to travel intercity with and pretend am taking back to school?

I mean one does not willingly use the mushikashika which are usually priced higher and at times can be double the price of the ZUPCO fare and run risk of being robbed of valuables and dumped naked in the middle of nowhere, if one could help it. But here we are and the thought of a trip into town gives me a headache, how can it not?

At least there is some peace and quiet today, a bit too silent even, am tempted to get up and see if the little rascals really have gone to school, because if they were here and they were this silent they would be upto no good… Let me just put on some Peppa Pig for background noise…. its kinda grown on me ^_^

So whats going on in your neck of the woods?

~B

4 Comments

  1. I always learn so much from your posts. My daughter used to take a school bus aged 2 1/2 to go to school! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like to walk. I’m assuming you live quite far from where you need to go and that’s why you can’t just walk there? How about bikes? If transport is really such a hassle, why not come up with an alternative way?

    Liked by 1 person

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