Residents’ Voices Issue 40

Transport blues hit Bulawayo
Commuters in Bulawayo are bearing the brunt in the ongoing war between commuter operators and traffic police in the city.

Yesterday, scores of commuters were left stranded after commuter omnibus drivers and conductors parked their kombis in protest over traffic police conduct. On Thursday, kombi drivers, touts and conductors were involved in a brawl with the police, a police vehicle being vandalized in the process. Conductors and touts are apparently fed up with police officers who they say are milking them of their hard earned income. Corruption by traffic police officers has become common place in Bulawayo in recent years. The officers demand between $10 and $80 in spot fines for various defects in commuter omnibuses. It is the commuters who have suffered the most in the stand off as transport has been scarce in the last few days while the few operational kombis have been in some instances cutting routes or increasing fares. Residents are dismayed by the corruption and lack of professionalism displayed by police officers.

Residents dismayed by slashing of maize crop

Bulawayo residents are dismayed by the recent slashing of crops in Makokoba by the city council. Residents are concerned that the act by the council is a sign that it is not concerned with the welfare of the people. City dwellers have resorted to urban farming due the strained economy in the country characterized by high unemployment and low remuneration. Some residents sell their crops for a living while some cut down on other expenses by sustaining themselves with maize, sweet potatoes and vegetables from the fields. In light of this, residents believe it was inconsiderate and inhumane for the city council to destroy their crop. This is more so because the city council has not allocated residents alternative areas to practice urban farming. Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) is appalled by the conduct of the city fathers. The associations acknowledges the legality of the action but believes that as a people centric entity, the city council should strike a balance between legality and morality. Furthermore, BPRA believes BCC should direct resources towards issues such as mending of roads, burst sewer pipes and refuse removal instead of destroying peoples livelihoods.

Passport Office inefficiency irks residents

Residents have renewed their calls for an overhaul of the passport office in the city as it is perennially failing to offer a satisfactory service. Residents complained that they are being deprived of their right to travel documents as the Passport Office has been suspending the processing and issuing of passports and other emergency travel documents for one reason or the other. This has worsened an already bad situation as corruption at the offices has already made accessing of travel documents an expensive and arduous task. It has emerged that employees demand bribes amounting to $100 to process documents. This means that residents desperate to obtain passports fork out as much as $150 for a document that only costs $50. Residents have called for measures to be taken to deal with the corruption at the offices and a de-centralization of the process in order to make it more efficient.

Cost of education a cause for concern

High costs of education have once again become a major cause for concern in the city as the first term of the 2011 academic begins. Bulawayo residents have complained that exorbitant fees, costs of uniforms and the sore issue of incentives have made education inaccessible to the majority of residents in light of high unemployment and untenable salary rates. Already, some schools in the city have begun chasing students away for failure to pay school fees and teachers incentives. Things have been worsened by reports that salary negotiations between teachers unions and the government could break. Parents had been hoping that teachers would receive a substantial increase that would lead to abolishing of incentives. The ministry of education has stressed that incentives will not be abolished until teachers are earning salaries that are competitive with other countries in the region to avoid teacher immigration.

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