Residents blast ZRP

Harare residents blasted the Zimbabwe Republic Police for failure to enforce the law while feasting and benefiting on bribes from errant public transport operators and their drivers; this emerged at a Dialogue Meeting between Harare Municipal Police, Residents, Ministry of Transport, Public Transport operators and City of Harare Department of Planning hosted by CHRA this week at the Cathedral Hall in the city centre.

This was after the Director from Ministry of Transport, Mr Hama revealed that they conducted a survey and discovered that about 80% of commuter omnibus operators in Harare do not have route authority permits, while some of the drivers are not even licensed

Officials from the City of Harare agreed that most operators are using fake permits and most of the errand kombi drivers are unlicensed drivers. It emerged that these unlicensed. These drivers are being paid about $10 per day to pick up people at undesignated street corners thereby endangering lives of innocent people. Residents lamented that most of these deals happen in full view of the police who are working in cahoots with these unlicensed drivers and rank marshals operating at undesignated places (dubbed as mushikashika) to the extent that some police officers will be guarding these activities to proceed without any disturbance. Mr Pedzapasi from the Vehicle Inspection Department highlighted that VID has 169 inspectors only against a demand of 400 inspectors hence there is need to bolster manpower in order to address this problem.

Councillor Madzokere of Ward 32 Glen View in his capacity as a resident pointed out that the Harare Municipality was now using fines as a tool for revenue generation especially during this time when the budget is not performing well. The municipality actually budgeted $5.4 million revenue to come from vehicle clamping and towing. Mr Cosmos Mbojani from Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators explained that the Council and the Police are benefiting from this chaos hence they have been dragging their feet to act and restore sanity in the City, and that’s the reason why it has taken decades to construct the Commuter Omnibus holding bay. Residents noted that police preferred unlicensed drivers and operators as this has become their cash cow because of the set daily targets through fines.

The stakeholders present agreed that the deregulation policy of 1993 allowing commuter omnibuses to operate was a stop- gap measure after ZUPCO failed to offer the service. Stakeholders present agreed that, and as a long term measure, mass carrier buses, administered by either the government or municipality, must be a form of public transport in order to restore sanity, order and efficiency in the public transport system. On the other hand residents and public transport operators were in tandem with the municipal officials that the municipal traffic by-laws must be reformed to suit the current situation because the ones that are being use were established in 1913. Residents demanded the police to enforce the law or they will organise themselves and conduct citizen’s arrest on errant operators. The absence of ZRP officials at the meeting “under the guise of attending to national issues” raised a stink among the stakeholders and clearly indicated that they had a case to answer hence they chickened out.

CHRA believes that dialogue among stakeholders promotes avenues for coming up with sustainable solutions to the challenges bedevilling the city. CHRA will take these meetings to the communities in an effort to gather a wider stakeholder input especially the residents and youths living in our communities. We urge the Z.R.P to take platforms like these seriously and stop politicking and pontifying about being engaged in national issues. We will continue to invite the Z.R.P to participate in the community meetings for purposes of multiple stakeholder dialogue.

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