Zimbabwe News

Harare rank marshal took US$5 000 loading fees from bus crew

A rank marshal who allegedly seized control of a loading bay at Market Square bus terminus in Harare raked in a cumulative US$5,000 over 19 months by collecting unsanctioned daily loading fees from a bus operator.

ZimLive reported that Cuthbert Chamwakaona (39) was arrested and charged with extortion. He was subsequently arraigned before Harare magistrate Appolonia Marutya who granted him US$100 bail.

Rank marshals are individuals who operate at commuter omnibus ranks (bus terminuses) in cities, towns and even busy centres across the country. They collect fees from transport operators and manage the loading and unloading of passengers. In the case of Chamwakaona, prosecutors said:

… from September 2022 to date and at Market Square Rank, the complainant Jephat Motsi, a driver started operating at that site plying Buririro 4 and 5 driving a commuter omnibus GHACO fleet number 285.

They further alleged that Chamwakaona, acting in connivance with one Maricho who is still at large and Nelson Makonese, who is already on remand, declared that they were owners of the rank.

The trio allegedly put illegitimate pressure on Motsi by demanding US$2 per trip. They also declared he would not ferry passengers unless they were paid the monies they demanded.

The court heard that Motsi operated at the rank for a continuous period of 19 months. Every month he worked for an average of 26 days. Per day he had an average of five trips hence he lost a total of US$4,940.

Motsi reported the extortion to the police through his association Greater Harare Association of Commuter Omnibus Operators (GHACO), leading to the arrest of the Makonese and Chamwakaona.

Rank marshals are found at terminuses and illegal pick-up and drop-off points where they harass operators and commuters alike.

They demand cash from operators to allow them to load passengers, and at the same time, they force people to board vehicles against their will.

All the money collected by rank marshals goes into individuals’ pockets with local authorities not benefitting from the illicit levies.

Some of the rank marshals are reportedly linked to corrupt ZANU PF officials who shield them from arrest and prosecution.

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