Ivan Zhakata Herald Correspondent
Vandalism of street lights and the failure by Harare City Council to replace the stolen components has exposed residents to murder, window smashing, theft and robbery.
Most street lights in Harare city centre and residential areas have not been functioning for years due to vandalism and poor maintenance.
Some of them need bulb and switch replacements, but the city fathers are failing to attend to them.
Along Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Road (formerly Airport Road), the newly-installed solar lights have been vandalised by thieves who stole batteries and solar panels.
The increase in criminal activities in residential areas has been attributed to non-functioning of street lights.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said most offences are committed in dark areas and action must be taken to ensure there is adequate lighting on the streets.
“Street lights help in terms of movement of people. Criminals take advantage of the darkness to commit robberies, theft, rape and murder.
“We will continue to increase patrols and engage stakeholders to ensure safety of the people,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
Load-shedding has also been blamed for darkness, which has seen people being mugged.
However, some residents have since resorted to using solar energy as a substitute to light their properties to make them secure and visible.
Harare corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme said the city was worried about vandalism on public lighting infrastructure.
“The newly installed solar street lights along Airport Road have been vandalised, the batteries and solar panels were stolen. Poles were cut down,” he said.
“We are working with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and some culprits have already been arrested and taken to court.
“We have solar infrastructure in some parts of Harare along Samora Machel Avenue, Enterprise Road (now Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa Road), Churchill, Borrowdale and Robert Mugabe roads in the central business district,” he said.
Mr Chideme called on the private sector to partner council and install street lights in various areas across the city.
He urged residents to protect street lights within their areas to prevent vandalism.
“We encourage residents to jealously guard streets lights in their areas. When we repair the lighting system, residents should be more responsible and take care of the property to avoid vandalism,” said Mr Chideme.
He said solar energy was the best option.