SOME unemployed youths in Chibolya Com pound were yesterday spotted fleecing money from bus operators who were diverting their route from the main road through the neighbourhood to avoid police roadblocks.
The youths blocked the roads with huge logs demanding a ‘toll payment’ from bus drivers, charging them K10 to pass through their neighbourhood.
One of the bus drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity said they had no option but to pay because the youngsters won’t let them pass freely.
“We don’t have a choice, they refuse to let us pass through without payment so in the end we just give them the money because it’s much better than paying spot fines.” said the bus driver.
He said that police roadblocks at the junction of Kanyama – Chibolya roads especially in the morning made it almost impossible for bus operators to operate profitably so many opt to use alternative routes whenever possible.
And in their defence, the youths claimed that bus drivers were invading their territory and destroying their already deteriorating and neglected roads.
“It is our roads that they use, so as a community we are entitled to some payment,” said one of the youths who preferred anonymity. “At least some people are benefitting,” he said
But residents observed that the youths who collected the tolls mostly used the money on alcohol and drugs, which was not good for the community.
They implored the authorities to do something to stop the illegality.
“At the ‘toll’ the youths are visibly drunk, sometimes consuming their alcohol openly.
“Empty bottles of a cough syrup used as a drug, are a regular sight,” said one of the residents.
Meanwhile, parents in the area have expressed concern about their children’s safety with the increased number of buses passing through their area.
Mr Kelvin Mwila, a parent noted that bus drivers were always racing through the area, saying it was not safe especially in such high density area.
“These bus drivers have persistently been known to operate outside traffic laws, thereby endangering people’s lives,” he said.