EDITORIAL COMMENT: Time to halt police, kombi crews games

Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT: Time to halt police, kombi crews games | The Herald July 3, 2017

We are worried with the rate at which innocent passengers and passers-by continue to fall victim to the cat and mouse game between the police and commuter omnibus operators.

It is time Government came up with stringent measures to protect the public. Each time the police and the commuter omnibus drivers or the so-called mushikashika (illegal taxis) operators clash, the result has been someone innocent getting injured.

We have always wondered why the police have been engaging in hide and seek with the unruly transporters. We are saying this because we know the capability of our police officers — they are highly trained and very professional.

Surely, we are not convinced that the police have failed to restore order in Harare and other cities and towns afflicted by such a chaotic transport system.

If the police put an extra effort, and try other methods, we can wake up to a capital city free of the traffic jungle that characterises it today. We are surprised that sometimes the commuter omnibuses and pirate taxi drivers flout the rules and regulations at will.

Only last week, such running battles between the police and kombi drivers nearly claimed the lives of seven school pupils in Harare. The kombi overturned along Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, while police officers on a motorcycle were in hot pursuit.

The injured pupils were from Churchill Boys’ High School and Roosevelt Girls’ High School. After realising that the kombi had overturned causing a pile-up accident, the police officers fled the scene instead of assisting the injured.

Last week, we also featured a sad story of a 43-year-old woman, who was severely injured after a police officer placed a spike under a commuter omnibus she had just boarded along Prince Edward Street in Milton Park, Harare in January.

As she was about to disembark, one of the spikes pierced her right leg above the ankle and the injury left her destitute as she can no longer go back to work.

Our point is that there should be a permanent solution to the kombi and mushikashika menace that is causing havoc in the capital. And this calls for a holistic approach to the problem, not the piece-meal attempts we are witnessing.

We know police have been using spikes as one of the methods to try and contain the problems. But we notice that the spikes have failed to bring order, as the problems persist despite their wide use on the streets.

It is time that stakeholders, including both the police and the commuter omnibus operators, come up with a lasting solution to this debacle. Otherwise we will continue to lose lives and get more people unnecessarily injured in this game that appears to drag on.

On several occasions, many people have often wondered why the police have to chase after errant commuter omnibus drivers on crowded streets.

It is unfortunate that the police, in their efforts to restore order, are being accused of causing the lawlessness.

At the same time, we strongly feel that people are criticising the police simply because there is something wrong with the methods being used in an attempt to maintain order.

Why not just do away with spikes where they are not necessary and stop this business of chasing after offending drivers on the crowded streets?

The methods being used would not be necessary if our police force adopts modern methods of controlling traffic and making the offenders accountable.

For instance, the owner of the offending commuter omnibus can be traced through the vehicle registry after noting down the number plate, instead of police officers chasing after the vehicle.

Adopting new information technologies can be another solution to this menace, as this can aid the police to account for all vehicles registered in the country.

There is definitely need for new and effective methods to deal with traffic offenders, to avoid putting the lives of innocent people at risk.