‘Too many police roadblocks killing tourism’

By | April 10, 2017

Source: ‘Too many police roadblocks killing tourism’ – DailyNews Live

ASSISTANT EDITOR      10 April 2017

HARARE – Zimbabwe Council of Tourism (ZCT) chief executive Paul Matamisa
has called for an all-stakeholders meeting to deal decisively with
menacing police roadblocks which have triggered scorn and outrage among
business and ordinary Zimbabweans.

This comes as a large cross-section of Zimbabweans have condemned a
government directive that empowers police to mount one roadblock within a
10-kilometer radius, arguing that the ill-advised decision would fuel
corruption on the country’s roads.

Curiously, police have actually increased roadblocks within the 10 km
zones – a move which road users and ordinary Zimbabweans say flies in the
face of calls by lawmakers and tourism players to minimise roadblocks –
which they blame for driving away tourists and wasting productive hours.

“As has been pointed out by many people and organisations in recent
months, the roadblock situation has had a direct and negative impact on
tourism.

“Domestic travel, which is almost entirely dependent on self-drive travel,
has been reduced significantly by the roadblocks, as people prefer to stay
at home than be exposed to the delays and hassle factor created by the
presence of a large number of roadblocks along all tourism travel routes.

“Recent reports have shown that between Harare and Mutare, for example,
there are sometimes in excess of 20 roadblocks, and some travellers report
having been made to stop at each of these, resulting in three-hour
journeys becoming as long as six hours,” Matamisa said in a statement.

“International travellers hiring vehicles or travelling in coaches and
buses have also reported delays and have been especially critical of what
they have described as hostility and aggressiveness on the part of
personnel manning the roadblocks. It is a point raised again and again by
tourists on departure and there have been reports of some foreign
travellers gaining the very unfortunate and inaccurate impression that the
country is in a state of unrest.

“Whether this perception is factual or not, this perception exists and
must be addressed, as it has created something of a public relations
nightmare for Zimbabwe as a whole, not the least the travel and tourism
sector.

“ZCT is very keen to work with all stakeholders in reviewing the whole
situation and working on a means of overcoming the problems created by the
roadblocks situation in a manner that is satisfactory to all parties. In
this regard, we are seeking meetings with all relevant authorities and we
will share our thoughts on what can be done,” added Matamisa.

Recently, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo said police had been
instructed to decongest roadblocks through a directive which allowed one
roadblock within a 10-km radius to promote ease of doing business.

However, this has not gone down well with motorists who have launched a
campaign against the police ahead of filing a Class action at the
Constitutional Court.

“Whilst police are entitled to roadblocks to maintain law and order in
terms of section 68 of the Constitution their actions have to be
reasonable, proportionate and fair,” former Cabinet minister and Road
Users Association (RUA) lawyer, David Coltart told the Daily News last
week.

“Setting up a roadblock in every 10 km radius is not reasonable or
proportional to maintaining law and order. In fact the numerous roadblocks
are a direct violation of section 66 which says every Zimbabwean and
anyone living in Zimbabwe has a right to move freely in Zimbabwe.”

The public outcry comes as stone-broke government has increased traffic
spot fines by nearly 100 percent, in a controversial move it claims will
reduce road accidents.

The new traffic fines were announced just weeks after police
Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri had called for steep increases in
the spot fines, which he said would curb Zimbabwe’s worsening road carnage
and reckless driving.

The High Court last month gave relief to thousands of motorists who
complain about the random and unrelenting harassment at roadblocks by
police, when it ruled that there was no law that allowed police to
confiscate licences and impound vehicles of drivers who refused to pay
spot fines.

This was after police had admitted that they had no right to force drivers
to pay spot fines.

4 thoughts on “‘Too many police roadblocks killing tourism’

  1. Sue Parry

    The road carnage would be reduced if, first and foremost, the state of the roads was improved. Cavernous potholes; jagged worn cutaway tar on the sides of the roads; lack of clearly demarcated lines delineating lanes; uncut excessive grass and bush encroaching onto the road verges, obstructing motorists view for turning, and forcing pedestrians to walk on the road instead of on the verges; lack of night lightening along the roads or ‘cats’ eyes’ down the centre line all substantially contribute to serious dangerous risks to motorists and pedestrians alike. Commuter buses tend to stop right in or by intersections, obstructing vehicles turning into that lane and forcing them to pass the minibus in the oncoming lane, thus risking a head-on collison with any approaching vehicle. Commuter buses stop at strategic places for their passengers. It is a reality, they will stop and, without dedicated bays into which they can pull, they will obstruct traffic following them, forcing such vehicles to unsafely pass. Far better to create regular bays for the minibuses and fine any who stop outside of such designated areas if they obstructs traffic. Throughout the country, fencing of lands that bordered main roads prevented livestock from straying onto roads, another source of serious night time accidents. Replace that stolen fencing and it will do much to improve safety on the roads. Addressing any or all of these basic road safety provisions would reduce accidents far more than stopping drivers every 10 km to check if they have safety features in their cars. or worse, fleecing them for spurious reasons. Finally ensure police officers actually are knowledgeable as to the road rules, especially in relation to the significance of an orange light and where exactly drivers are supposed to stop at Stop signs, especially if the driver is unable to safely see the road because of overgrown vegetation obstructing view.

    Reply
    1. Doris

      100% right. Add to that volunteer “road repairers” who think they have the legal right to divert traffic, and there you have it…….a real pie for disaster.

      Reply
  2. Bill

    For a period of over 20 years I’ve been a visitor to Bulawayo and Plumtree.
    On each visit I brought along cash which was destined to be spent in Zimbabwe.
    In the last 10 years I’ve learnt to avoid Beitbridge having on several visits arrived in the evening only to complete formalities by 6 or 7 a.m.
    The Beitbridge cues are undisciplined, touts are everywhere, the staff are unhelpful the process is frustrating and totally inefficient.
    The Plumtree border is not as bad. Sadly however unnecessary delays are the order of the day.
    Between the border post and Plumtree expect a road block, less than a kilometre out of Plumtree expect a further road block. With a road block at 10 kM intervals that’s going to add up to at least eight before arriving at Bualwayo.
    What happened to the promises of freedom in Zimbabwe? Certainly little freedom if travelling by road.
    My most recent experiences with road blocks and solicitation for bribes by the police have brought me to the conclusion that my visits must come to an end.
    My small contribution to the Zimbabwe economy is also over.
    What a sad demise to a brilliant country with brilliant people.

    Reply
  3. ferg

    i have visited Zimbabwe 4 times in the last few years and driven extensively on each visit. The roads are deteriorating even in the few years that i have experienced them. The roadblocks leave me bemused. They are definitely intimidating and occur so frequently that they impact travel times. On my last trip, a policeman at a roadblock was very determined to sell me a raffle ticket for a truck. it’s all a bit sad.

    Reply

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