Bus drivers: Trusted couriers

Bus drivers are entrusted with carrying everything from children, important documents and money, to wrapped-up objects some whose contents they never know between cities and into every corner of the country.

Allan Myambo, a Mupfumi Bus driver is one such. He is entrusted with goods between the 92-kilometre stretch between Mutare to Rusape.

He does it for free. “How could I charge anyone for this?” he laughs at an inquiry of how much he was being paid for the service.

“Often, people who approach the buses are so poor they do not afford to keep together without our support,” Myambo says.
But he has been entrusted with more important things before.
“At one point I was given $3 000 in Bulawayo for someone here in Mutare,” he said.

But it is not  every time they know what they are carrying.
“At times you are just handed a wrapped-up package whose value you would only estimate from the money you are offered for the service,” Myambo said.

On almost every trip, Myambo will be carrying goodies for loved ones, friends, families or even business partners, he said.
A trans-border Pioneer Bus Company driver, who declined to give his name, said he mainly moves groceries and money from South Africa into Zimbabwe. Others give the bus drivers custody of children in transit.

“I mainly transport groceries and cash,” he said.
For Steven Masvovere, the relationship that bus drivers have with communities they serve, is a unique local heritage that he would miss if he were to leave the job.

“Our bus drivers have been very critical in keeping families fed from both the city and the rural areas. They have been of great service to us as a nation and I don’t see their role diminishing, especially on the movement of goods,” Masvovere said.

For Lewis Tomei, from his South Africa base, bus drivers have been able to  help Zimbabweans abroad send goods back home.
“While it’s impossible to be going back to Zimbabwe every month, many people, even those who are illegally settled, have been able to always send groceries and money home regularly,” Tomei said.

Transporters are the link that has for decades kept families connected, not so much by ferrying members safely between destinations. Carrying goodies, money and missives between families, drivers have become integral members of Zimbabwean families.

They are the nation’s unlikely but trusted courier service providers. It’s a job they relish. Most drivers say they make modest earnings from the trade.—Bernard Chiketo

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