Stanford Rusenza’s house is about ten metres from the wide tar of Second Street extension where it makes a long but sharp turn to the right after the Lomagundi Road traffic lights. He is part of the grounds staff at the Avondale Sports Club and lives on the edge of their premises with his family, where he grows an abundance of veggies and keeps chickens. He is happy to have lots of space around him and water for his muriwo, but he says that it has been a scary place to live.
“Last month, you wouldn’t believe it, there were on one day five accidents in thirty minutes,” Rusenza says, pointing out the place where most of the speeding cars come through the now patchy-looking Durawall, just a few paces from his home. Despite several near misses and the death of two chickens, Rusenza and other club staff have evaded injury. Not so for the drivers.
There have been several very severe accidents on this bend and earlier this year this corner claimed the life of St. Johns High students and Young Sables rugby star Nicholas Burnett. “It was tragic,” Rusenza sighs. This stretch of smooth dual carriageway entices excessive speed and the corner comes as a surprise to some drivers, especially at night or during inclement weather.
Michael Hoggard, Chairman of the Club (and we are proud to say Harare News’ chairman as well) estimated there to have been thirty accidents this year alone and decided that something had to be done. Identifying the lack of signage as a major factor in people underestimating the severity of the bend Hoggard approached Gift Jumburu, the Mount Pleasant district officer, and the two men came up with a plan.
“The club provided chevron signs and paint. The council provided poles, bolts and the labour” said Hoggard, who repeatedly expressed his appreciation of the willingness of Jumburu and the council to engage with him and partner in an exercise to make the corner safer for the huge volume of traffic that takes the bend each day. “They had no budget,” Hoggard says, “but they were willing.”
Harare News arrived at this deadly spot just as the first of thirteen enormous fluorescent direction indicators were being dug in by a team of council workers. A fresh coat of paint was being applied to the curbs and Hoggard and Jumburu were busily scrutinising the angle of the signs and the depth of the holes.
Jumburu’s enthusiasm for partnerships like this is obvious, though a code of conduct for people of his office had him declining to make official comment. He expressed a hope that the city might see a culture of responsibility taking root. He suggested that he was shaking things up to get people on his team working hard to meet the needs of the city.
The next time you travel along Second Street extension you will see the chevrons, which will undoubtedly save lives in the years to come. They will hopefully serve to not only remind drivers to slow down but also to signal to us as citizens that if we take responsibility for our environs there are opportunities and partnerships waiting to be born that can make Harare cleaner, safer and better for us all.