Ashdown Park and other nearby parts of Ward 16 have had their streetlights repaired after years of darkness. The repairs were the result of citizen action and engagement.
The neighbourhood was previously completely dark at night, making it dangerous for pedestrians as thieves operated in the area, using the mealie fields bordering the roads as cover. Residents identified poor street lighting in the area as a cause for concern and with their local authority contributed to their repair. Mabelreign District Council then chipped in with part of the money from the retention funds, eventually engaging City of Harare to fix the lights and ending the long period of darkness.
One resident of the area, Mr Johannes Govora, expressed enthusiasm over the restoration of lights. He described it as a ‘miracle’, after he had seen a City of Harare crew fixing non-working lights in his suburb. “In 2010 when City of Harare told us there was no money to repair our lights, we as residents contributed $1.00 per household and the lights were fixed but within three days they stopped working one after the other and by 2013 almost all the lights were no longer working. It is only now in 2015 that I have seen men at work restoring the streetlights,” said Govora.
Some residents, however, were sceptical about the repairs, arguing that most of the poles were now rusty with some falling over and argued that it is a waste repairing only the lights without new infrastructure.
Councillor for Ward 16 Lancelot Mudavanhu, who sadly passed away last week, commented at the time saying that the project was backed by the 10% retention fund that was adopted by council last year during the 2015 budget formulation process. “It is up to residents to identify what they want to be prioritised and in this case it is street lights. We are waiting for the next batch of funds to be disbursed, hopefully by July, and we will fix potholes next,” said Mudavanhu.
Member of Parliament for Harare West, Honourable Jessie Fungayi Majome, commended Ashdown Park Residents’ Association’s hard work in liaising with the Council District Office at Mabelreign to make this initiative a success. Responding to positive feedback from members of her constituency in Ward 41, she encouraged them to keep expecting more good work. “It’s your council – you pay rates to it for that. Encouraging indeed,’’ said Majome. She went on to say that Council is now even repairing traffic lights in the area. “After pressuring Council to improve road safety I was pleasantly surprised to see that the intersection of Kirkman Road and Harare Drive now has traffic lights and fresh road markings. This is definitely a step in the right direction,” she said.
Traffic lights are also needed at the intersection of Harare Drive and Stansted Road near Mabelreign shops. “I have been lobbying council to put a traffic light or a roundabout at that dangerous intersection since 2012. The Harare Drive Ashdown Park pedestrian traffic lights have finally been repaired after 15 years. I’ll keep pushing Council to repair all the other traffic controls and signage,” said Majome.
Dysfunctional street lights are a problem in other suburbs as well, posing not only a security threat but also creating ideal conditions for road accidents. Harare City Council has partnered with a foreign investor in a $15 million project that will see solar street lights installed in the city centre. Work has already started.
Picture: Traffic lights on the corner of Kirkman Road and Harare Drive were turned on at the end of June. Newspaper vendor Mr Sanango, who was worked the corner for nine years is happy with the new order the lights have brought. “The traffic used to be mad here, but it is much better now,” he said.