December 14, 2019
One of the reasons why businesses have been migrating from Harare central business district (CBD) has to do primarily with how inaccessible it has become for customers to drive into that geographical space and find parking.
Secondly, the CBD has become too congested, with whole sections of streets having double and sometimes treble parking.
Thirdly, is the menace of touts, who accost motorists, shoppers or people going about their business. Then there is the attendant insecurity posed by touts to motorists wishing to conduct business in the CBD.
Some of the touts are known to steal from or damage cars when their demands are not met.
The fourth reason is the level of chaos in the CBD, where even walking is a challenge because pavements are occupied by purveyors of an assortment of wares.
The fifth is the cost of doing business in the CBD. These factors have combined to render the CBD no longer conducive for both businesses and their clients.
This has made businesses migrate to suburban or office parks. Arundel Office Park, Borrowdale Office Park, Bluff Hill, Celestial Park, Old Mutual Office Park, Pomona and Tendeseka Office Park came about as a response to the quest by businesses for conducive environments to operate in and for their clients to visit.
The city has responded to the congestion and general chaos presented by motorists, who block the free flow of and movement of other drivers by introducing punitive clamping and tow-away fines.
Motorists whose vehicles are clamped or towed away for one reason or another face the prospect of paying between $500 and $900 before securing the release of their cars following a 700 percent increase in clamping and tow-away fines. The new fines came into effect yesterday.
Owners of light motor vehicles can expect to fork out $500 to have their vehicles unclamped, while a 15-seater kombi will be fined $600, with an 18-seater commuter bus facing a fine of $700.
The new tow-away fine for light motor vehicles is $500; for a 15-seater commuter bus $700; while an 18-seater commuter bus attracts a fine of $800.
Buses will attract a penalty fee of $800, while the new fine for lorries stands at $900.
For the City of Harare, the move is expected to restore order within the CBD, where chaos reigns supreme because of motorists who park illegally, defy parking rules or commit other traffic offences within the CBD.
This is both welcome and overdue if it can be backed by enforcement and higher visibility of enforcement agents.
The real challenge is whether the city has the stomach to carry out the work necessary for de-congesting the CBD.
There is simply no reason why chaos should be allowed an upper hand in the capital.
There is absolutely no valid reason, especially when Bulawayo, the second biggest city in the country, is better run and its traffic is properly managed, while its streets are cleaner than those in the capital.
While the Government has approved the proposed fines, there are doubts whether this is so much about de-congesting the CBD than it is about the City of Harare conjuring up yet another scheme to fund its voracious appetite for spending.