A raft of rapid transport improvements recommended by the inter-ministerial committee set up just a week ago to tackle road congestion in urban areas, particularly in Harare Metropolitan, were approved by Cabinet yesterday as Government moves into top gear to upgrade public transport and ensure better traffic conditions for businesses.
The initial improvements centre on upgrading both Zupco operations and expanding the fleet under its control, providing dedicated bus lanes and renovating terminuses, eliminating the pirate kombis and mushikashika, repairing urgently critical non-functioning traffic lights, improving traffic control at congested junctions, repairing road surfaces at junctions and putting in kerbs to prevent U-turns.
Municipal traffic police would now be brought into police operations to control traffic and enforce traffic rules.
The seriously congested Mbudzi roundabout in south Harare will see decisive action to improve traffic flows and traffic control almost immediately with the longer-term solution being the replacement of the roundabout by a flyover.
Speaking after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Treasury would fund the import of a further 667 buses to boost the fleet under the Zupco franchise, and Zupco had been ordered to upgrade operations including a return to scheduled services using timetables and expanding its tap-card system.
At the same time law enforcement agents were also ordered to remove illegal pirate taxis, the pirate kombis and mushikashika from the roads.
“Cabinet considered and approved measures for the elimination of congestion and installation of proper lighting in the country’s urban areas,” Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said at a post-Cabinet briefing in Harare yesterday.
“As you might recall Cabinet, at its sitting of May 11 2021, resolved to take deliberate measures to decongest urban centres in the wake of the obtaining traffic chaos, particularly in Harare and its environs.”
While the programme will be rolled out countrywide, top on the priority list was Harare Metropolitan Province as it was the worst.
In its first week, the inter-ministerial committee had drawn up proposed short-term measures to be undertaken to ameliorate congestion and provide better services. But local authorities will stay responsible for the provision of street lights.
As part of the immediate programme, traffic lights will be repaired at the intersections of Samora Machel Avenue and Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa Road, Seke Road and Vitalis Zvinavashe Road, Glenara Avenue South and Chiremba Road, Simon Mazorodze Road and Paisley Road, Abdel Gamal Nasser Road and Jason Moyo Avenue, Julius Nyerere Way and Kenneth Kaunda Avenue, Liberation Legacy Way and Harare Drive, and Harare Drive and ED Mnangagwa Road.
New traffic control measures will be implemented at identified junctions to alleviate congestion.
“On traffic control infrastructure, Cabinet was informed that dedicated bus lanes to ensure preferential treatment of buses, clear carriageway markings for roads and parking bays, erection of no stopping and no U-turn signs, stop signs, give way signs and load restrictions will be marked at appropriate places.
Construction of non-mountable kerbing barriers would be made at junctions and other critical areas to avoid U-turns or driving over islands. The roads would be repaired at identified junctions. The roads would be widened to allow at least two lanes in one direction.”
A long-term solution is set to be implemented of replacing the choked Mbudzi roundabout with a flyover at the intersection of Simon Mazorodze Road, Chitungwiza Road and High Glen Road. But in the interim there would be an emergency plan to ensure the present roundabout is used better as part of the programme to modify control at identified roundabouts.
“Mbudzi Roundabout is one of the most chaotic roundabouts in the country where immediate decisive action needs to be taken. It is reported that while the plan is to construct the junction once rehabilitation of Harare-Beitbridge Road has been completed, the emergency works will be undertaken to tie in with the overall plan.
As part of the upgrade of public transport, it was agreed that Treasury would avail funding. Councils are also encouraged to ensure that terminus facilities are spruced up so that they are not shunned by both transporters and commuters,” she said.
“Cabinet resolved to support the urgent procurement or hire of an additional 667 buses to enable Zupco to provide a more efficient service to all high density suburbs. Zupco is going to revive traditional bus routes, using designated bus stops, adhering to the stipulated bus time table, and improving the electronic payment system.”
Minister Mutsvangwa added that there will be repair of non-functioning traffic management signals, deployment of traffic management systems and police, and the generation of number plates.
Smart transport solution with cameras will be rolled out in June, and there would be implementation of the tracking system on Zupco franchise buses.
“Cabinet resolved that in order to enhance public transport service provided through Zupco, the Municipal Traffic Police and the Zimbabwe Republic Police will carry out enforcement programmes targeted at removing pirate taxis (mishikashika) operating in the Harare Central Business District.”
There would be joint operations between the Police and Municipal Traffic Police at intersections, and the municipal cops will also be trained to help in the controlling of traffic.
“Furthermore, impound yards would be established at strategic places along major routes and trading at all traffic intersections and along road servitudes will be criminalised,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.