City of Harare has begun renovations on the footbridge across Julius Nyerere Way after securing a loan offer of up to $300,000 from an un-named investor. It has been closed for nearly a decade.
The footbridge, along with the one at Machipisa Shopping Centre, was constructed in the 1990s by Delta Beverages, with Delta retaining rights to the advertising space along the side of the bridges. Harare City Council later closed the CBD footbridge, alleging that it was unsafe to use at night following a string of muggings and robberies and also because it had entered a state of disrepair.
The current renovations will take place under a similar deal, with the investor once again retaining advertising rights. It is a financing model that has also been deployed in the erection of solar street lighting along several Harare roads.
The footbridge will hopefully alleviate the rampant jaywalking in the area. Jaywalking is walking in or crossing a road at a non-designated point – a common offence in the CBD. It has made driving in town a nightmare by increasing congestion and the risk of traffic accidents.
In countries such as the USA, jaywalking is a chargeable offence and local authorities use street cameras to catch those breaking the law. Most people don’t know that it is also illegal here. Council Spokesperson, Michael Chideme said, “It is an offence for pedestrians to cross roads at undesignated points.” But there is no enforcement of these rules, which the walking public seem unaware of.
“Personally I am not aware of such a thing called jaywalking,” says Jennifer Sithole, a vendor who sells her wares along Robert Mugabe Road. Simbarashe Dube from Mufakose says people cross the road at any point because it is convenient, despite the dangers involved.“I can’t imagine having to walk past my intended destination just to use a pedestrian crossing point when I can just go straight to where I want to go,” said Dube.
On the other hand, motorists have voiced their disapproval of unregulated pedestrian crossings.
“As drivers, we need to know when to look out for pedestrians. It is important because it helps to reduce the number traffic accidents in the CBD,” said one motorist, Innocent Mawone. Another driver, Albert Masunda, said major roads such as Julius Nyerere, Samora Machel and Fourth Street should have proper guidelines in place for pedestrian traffic. “The movement of pedestrians is a major challenge in the CBD. We need some kind of order to enable us to drive safely,” he said.
Image: Jaywalking will hopefully become a thing of the past when the Julius Nyerere Way footbridge is reopened.