Intersection turns residents into ‘paramedics’

Source: Intersection turns residents into ‘paramedics’ | Sunday Mail (Local News)

Leroy Dzenga
Senior Reporter

For Harare residents living in apartments near the intersection of Sam Nujoma and Josiah Tongogara Street, sleeping soundly at night is a luxury they cannot afford.

They go to bed knowing full well they might be rudely awakened by loud bangs they have now grown accustomed to.

Barely a day passes without an ambulance being called to retrieve and assist people who would have been involved in a car accident at the intersection.

As a result, residents have become part-time paramedics and emergency first responders.

They have had to learn to live with horrific sights of mangled vehicle wreckages and oftentimes lifeless bodies of those who would have been killed in accidents.

The two roads handle high volumes of traffic daily and the point they intersect has become a black spot.

Traffic lights at the intersection have not been working for over three months.

During the day, traffic police and municipal officers help control traffic.

But when they knock off at around 6pm, the area morphs into a road version of the Bermuda Triangle, or Devil’s Triangle, where life can be snuffed out in an instant.

Mr Mitchell Gumbo, who stays at a flat a few metres from the intersection, told The Sunday Mail that residents have become restive.

“Last week alone, we saw three crashes in consecutive days. Some resulted in fatalities,” she said.

“Recently, we had to assist a lady who was driving a Toyota Noah, which was hit and landed on its side near our complex gate.

“We had to break the window to pull her out and called the ambulance.”

Most of the accidents happen during ungodly hours, when motorists generally become less cautious.

He said some of the emergency situations residents living close by are forced to handle, can be jarring for untrained individuals.

“When we call ambulances, sometimes they take long to arrive.

“This is despite the fact that we tlive close to Parirenyatwa (Group of Hospitals) and a few other medical facilities.

“Delays by emergency services put us in very difficult situations.

“Most of the time, we do not know what to do and risk worsening the situation,” he said.

Locals have made desperate pleas to the Harare City Council through various platforms, including social media, but they feel they have been ignored.

“We get an average of five accidents a week and most of them will be bad. We hope this is solved soon, because many people are getting injured and some are losing their lives,” he said.

The Harare City Council is responsible for maintaining traffic lights in the city, but it seems they do not have the capacity to deliver satisfactory services.

During the January to July period, the local authority collected over $5 billion, half of which was used to pay salaries, leaving little for service delivery.

The Sunday Mail sought a quotation from Light World, a leading lighting solutions company, for a standard traffic light. It shows the cost outlay would not break City of Harare’s bank.

A three-aspect traffic light – with amber, red and green lights – costs US$979. A two aspect light, which has only red and green lights, costs US$507.

The most sophisticated of the available options, which is the four-aspect traffic light, costs US$1 800.

City of Harare spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme shifted the blame to national power utility Zesa.

“There is a power supply fault at the intersection that has taken Zesa long to clear,” said Mr Chideme.

“The traffic control equipment at the intersection is fully functional.

“Proper operation will resume soon after power supply is restored.”

He refused to say when the traffic light will be back online.

“Zesa has been engaged to carry out the necessary repairs,” he said.

“Some of the intersections affected by prolonged power failures are Tongogara/Mazowe Street, Second Street Extension/Norfolk Rd, Second Street Extension/Harare Drive and several others.”

Zesa public relations department promised to respond to questions from this publication this week.

Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe acting director of operations, research and marketing Mr Ernest Muchena said adherence to basic traffic rules can save lives.

“In the event that there is no police officer regulating an uncontrolled intersection, motorists should follow the rule of precedence that is captured in the Highway Code.

“The rule states that when two cars arrive at an intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the left shall give precedence to the one on the road to its right,” said Mr Muchena.

He said every licensed driver must be aware of this rule.

“In the event that there are three cars, they will still give precedence to the road on the right hand side. You will notice that the cars will leave the intersection in a clockwise direction,” he added.“

At busy intersections, you find there will be cars from all the four directions. In that instance, it is expected that drivers should display courtesy.

“In that way, you find that cars can leave the intersection in a reasonable manner.”