Harare City Council robbing Peter to pay Paul | The Herald

via Editorial Comment: City Council robbing Peter to pay Paul | The Herald November 15, 2013

The proposed City of Harare Council Budget for 2014 presented on Friday last week shows that the municipal authority plans to heavily milk motorists to augment the decrease in revenue expected from other downward adjustments like the fixed water charges.

On the surface this appears to be an innovative approach to capitalisation whereby residents have their bills reviewed downwards while those who transgress against city by-laws literally pay through the nose.

The proposed clamping and tow-away fines for illegally parked cars and other city by-law traffic offences have been hiked to US$423. This is an almost 300 percent increase from the current US$112.

Owners of vehicles, especially those who need to come into the CBD, are understandably shocked by the proposal and are wondering if the municipality is targeting a vehicle-free city centre.

The city authorities claim that another reason for coming up with the prohibitive fees is to bring back sanity into the city centre.

Council spokesperson Leslie Gwindi said that the punitive charges would force people to adhere to city traffic requirements and park their vehicles properly.

He surely does have a point as the lawlessness on the city’s roads has become legendary.

People do stop their cars where they will, avoid paying parking fees and generally choke the streets of the CBD.

Commuter omnibuses, cabs and pirate taxis are the worst culprits but private motorists are not blameless either.

Right now as we enter the rainy season and every commuter, driver or passenger dreads the slightest sign of precipitation during the peak hours.

For no good reason that one can perceive, drivers seem to forget every rule in the driving book and end up grid-locked at intersections as they fail to use common sense and just block each other’s way.

So a prohibitive fine should create immediate order as every driver develops the culture of respecting traffic laws, city or national.

Except that the city fathers do not seem to have considered the problems that created the lawlessness in the first place, mainly the sheer number of vehicles versus the capacity of the city to deal with them.

They seem to be bent on treating the symptoms without attempting to cure the disease.

The first obvious move would be the creation of an efficient, comfortable and affordable commuter transport system.

In many Western cities like New York and London, very few people use their personal vehicles to commute as the public service providers meet the above conditions.

Such cities have prohibitive fines because there are options for the people.

If commuters from Chitungwiza, Norton, Marondera and Ruwa did not need to come into town in their personal vehicles, the congestion would be eased considerably. And for the individuals and the employers the cost of coming to work would also be reduced accordingly.

But one cannot expect a person to leave their car at home to wait endlessly at the pick-up point before being forced to endure a long ride squashed up in a kombi manned by a rude crew and driven recklessly.

And as long as the roads are congested the commuter omnibus drivers will cut any corner they can to do as many trips as possible before the commuter flow dries up.

So more and more people will keep on importing cars, increasing the number of vehicles in the city centre, daily.

The number of long-term parking bays in the city is woefully inadequate for the number of cars driven into town.

So drivers who cannot get parking in those slots are forced to play hide and seek with the municipal traffic police on the streets.

A visit to any taxi or commuter omnibus rank will show the same problem as drivers jostle for space and cannot avoid spilling over into streets that are not designated loading or off-loading areas, immediately creating chaos in those areas.

The creation of out-of-CBD zones for commuter omnibuses such as the proposed site near Colcom beyond Rotten Row is not a solution as a commuter coming from that side of town and wanting to get to First Street or beyond will have to traverse on foot.

Once again, the revival of Zupco seems to be the key long-term plan that everyone knows is crucial but no one seems determined to push for it.

We note that Zupco buses seem to be increasing on inter-city routes and hope that commuter operations are planned for sometime in the immediate future.

We urge the city fathers to really think their options through instead of attempting cosmetic solutions for deep-rooted problems.



  • comment-avatar
    Pastor 9 years ago

    Evil is all around us in today’s society, from lying and stealing to pornography, drugs, illicit sex, and violence. God calls us to be holy people set apart, not influenced by our wicked culture. Sin always has consequences. Do you take sin and God’s wrath seriously? One of the reasons God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was because he did not want the Jews to be influenced by this evil. As the Creator of all things, God has the divine right to destroy evil as he sees fit. “And the Lord said, ‘The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.'” God condemned and destroyed the cities as “an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter.”.” These people were “those who indulged the flesh in its corrupt desires and despised authority”. It is emblematic of gross immorality, deepest depravity, and ultimate judgment.But as for you [the “sons of Israel” (v. 2)], you are to keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled. (18:26-27)

  • comment-avatar
    Pastor 9 years ago

    The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life and the life of the others.

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    Boss MyAss 9 years ago

    75 percent of road accidents in Zimbabwe involve the country’s biggest public transporters, commuter omnibuses, chill the spine. Unfortunately it appears commuter omnibus drivers are unable to understand that speed and arrogant behaviour on the road costs lives. The arrogance of the kombi crews can be seen by the manner in which they dare police officers in broad daylight, playing hide-and-seek with them as they defiantly pick up passengers at undesignated points in urban centres. They literally make fools of traffic police who end up going up and down a single strip of road trying to chase away the public transporters from the undesignated and usually dangerous points. Because of their operational behaviour, kombis and pirate taxis create their own termini on roadsides and close to intersections, creating bottlenecks to traffic flow through an effective reduction of road width and the generation and attraction of large volumes of pedestrian traffic. Closely linked to the above, the driving behaviour of kombi drivers leaves a lot to be desired. Kombi drivers are known for aggressive driving behaviour as evidenced by poor lane discipline. This is particularly evident during peak periods where kombi drivers do not follow queuing order but ‘cut through’ other traffic and sometimes use opposite lanes, all adding to the chaos. Council has remained mum on their plans to address the situation. Repeated questions and visits to the Town House public relations department have drawn a blank.
    It is estimated that there are 5 000 commuter omnibuses in Harare and the city’s termini have proved too small for these. Without infrastructure, Harare has turned the capital city into a traffic nightmare. Owing to the shortage of parking space, ranks and properly designated pick-up and drop-off zones, kombis and taxis have become a menace in the city centre. Commuter omnibuses, cabs and pirate taxis are the worst culprits. Pedestrians, commuters and private vehicle drivers suspect the authorities are not showing commitment in arresting the chaos. For years now, measures have been put in place to ensure kombis do not enter the CDB, but they continue resurfacing. Have council and police completely failed? Are the authorities fighting a losing battle or they are deliberately letting chaos reign in the CBD?

    An assessment of the traffic situation in Harare showed that the cat-and-mouse game between public transporters and regulating authorities is far from over. We are having much more commuter omnibuses than the city can handle and we wonder where they are getting the operating licences. All these clashes that we witness everyday between the police, council officials and commuter operators are not meant to solve the root cause of the problem but they are now being seen as cash-generating activities. The commuter omnibus drivers will cut any corner they can to do as many trips as possible before the commuter flow dries up. Because of corruption it would not be surprising to note that little or nothing goes into the city council coffers due to bribery and other forms of corruption in the streets. Commuter omnibus operators caught picking or dropping passengers at undesignated points by council are fined $50 while buses pay $80 for the same offence. Authorities should restore sanity in the city because these everyday chases are not good for passengers and pedestrians. This behaviour by commuter omnibus drivers is the same they exhibit on the roads after they pick their passengers.

    They have become a menace on the roads and private motorists have come to accept the fact that when a commuter omnibus comes close, take extra caution and forget the right of way rule. The commuter omnibus drivers, most of them teenagers, are too excited and immature to be allowed to carry the lives of people in their hands. We urge the police to take more stringent measures to ensure the people behind the wheels of public transport are mature and sober. Yet daily the chase after commuter omnibuses and taxis all over the city centre by municipal and State police, sometimes in a bid to extract bribes, is continuing unabated.And daily, pedestrians face the risk of being run over by runaway commuter omnibuses whose drivers would be trying to evade the police.