Time to tame the traffic jungle 

Source: Time to tame the traffic jungle | The Herald June 27, 2018

Shame Tarumbiswa Correspondent
The recent announcement by the Commissioner-General of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Godwin Matanga, while touring Bindura in Mashonaland Central Province, that there is an exercise underway to streamline the ZRP, evokes hope; if indeed it results in the effective deployment of police officers for operational duties.

The exercise will go a long way in curbing all forms of crime that are bedevilling our country, principally, through bringing to book corrupt individuals.

Further, special focus must be on penalising commuter bus drivers who are breaking the rules of the road with unbelievable impunity.

Some of these motorists brazenly drive against oncoming traffic, stop vehicles at intersections or wherever they please, riding islands, dangerously squeezing their vehicles into straight, from turning lanes at robot-controlled intersections, and drive their vehicles with their assistants precariously hanging at the back of vehicles.

There are so many unregistered vehicles on our roads which are being used for commercial activities, especially ferrying passengers to their destinations. This means that the owners of these vehicles are prejudicing the State in many respects, while passengers are being transported aboard uninsured vehicles by virtue of them not being registered, which is dangerous, not only to commuters, but the motoring public in general.

One wonders whether or not these drivers ever read the Highway Code, or they corruptly obtained driver’s licences.

Their behaviour is a major cause of the majority of road traffic accidents, which are resulting in unnecessary deaths and maiming of innocent victims. Furthermore, these unruly drivers are creating traffic jungles in the cities and at times at tollgates when ZINARA equipment is overwhelmed. Another worrying trend revolves around imported commercial vehicles that are plying our roads with names of overseas companies still printed on them.

Eyewitnesses to breaches of road rules end up giving incorrect reports to the police since the names of overseas companies are not known in Zimbabwe.

The momentarily thin presence of the ZRP on the ground to carry out its constitutional mandate of protecting citizens against all these vices is a disturbing trend.

We hope soon rather than later that the police boldly moves to close the frightening policing gap.

While recognising that the security of citizens is not the sole responsibility of the ZRP, these few suggestions are proffered in the spirit of assisting the ZRP and other State institutions carry out their mandates:

The ZRP must boldly declare total war and act on corruption within the society and within key State institutions; invest in technology to assist them in policing duties by installing cameras at all critical road intersections and selected sections of the road throughout the country, including at tollgates, to record traffic movements and identify violators of road rules that lead to successful prosecutions.

At traffic control sites, police officers must approach vehicle drivers and not the opposite when making traffic inquiries; passengers near the driver must hear the conversation.

They should also work with the relevant authority to implement a Points-Based- Driver Licence System where a licencecan be withdrawn for life upon exhaustion of points or continuous breaches; work with the relevant authority to compel commuter operators to register under cooperatives/associations, with a minimum of 10 vehicles to a cooperative/ association. The police will have the simplest duty to deal with the cooperative/association where violations occur.

The cooperative/association will be duty-bound to self-regulate members of its association.

The Government should consider raising the age limit for public transport drivers to 26 years; introduce stifferpenalties for traffic offences. ZIMRA should hold imported vehicles at ports of entry till the registration process is finalised. Government and Harare/ CityFathers need to attract Passage Rail network investors to link all Harare suburbs.

Such interventions will go a long way in taming the traffic menace in our cities and on our roads.