Distressed Masvingo driving schools plead for reprieve

By Moses Ziyambi

The Zimbabwe Driving Schools Owners Association (ZDSOA) says it sees no reason for the continued suspension of licensing services as all conditions demanded of them by government to reduce chances of coronavirus transmissions at work have been met.

In a press statement with clear signs of distress, the association says it is convinced there would be little risk of transmission even if the Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID) and the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) were to open immediately.

“The Association submitted to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development the guidelines we are following to minimise the risk of transmitting COVID-19 and we believe there will be less risk during testing at VID,” the organisation says in the statement.

The association also claims that it is prepared to conform to all social distancing and sanitization requirements set by the provincial COVID-19 taskforces.

“During practical driving lessons, we stand guided by the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe regulations which make it mandatory for a single learner per given time and strictly without passengers. We maintain client registers also according to Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe regulations for maintaining client records and signing off each time they turn up for lessons. This system can be used for contact tracing in compliance with WHO standards in the case of transmissions.

“Our members have been conscientised by the provincial COVID-19 taskforce teams on the statutory requirements that every formal business is required to fulfill in order to operate. We are now anxiously awaiting the opening of the VID learner testing since we are yet to get a response from the ministry,” the statement reads.

The association also claims that fraudsters are now taking advantage of the prolonged closure of official services to issue fake documents to motorists and prospective drivers thereby worsening road safety in the country.

When contacted for comment, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Joel Biggie Matiza said he expected a position on the reopening of TSCZ and VID to be reached by next week.

“We are working as the National COVID-19 Taskforce and we have made a lot of deliberations. We should have released a statement on that by next week,” said Matiza.

When asked about concerns that government had been making similar promises over the past several weeks but with no tangible results, Matiza said it was a different case this time around.

“As you can see, things are loosening up; the tourism and other sectors have been reopened and we expect things to improve. It’s not a decision of the ministry alone to make, but of the national taskforce,” said Matiza.