Stakeholders in the transport sector have raised concern over the increased number of unlicensed transport operators who ply Harare’s roads at night to avoid roadblocks.
Acting spokesperson for the Passenger Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ), Bornwell Choga, speaking last month after an accident of a Chitungwiza-bound kombi claimed five lives, said there was need for increased presence of traffic police after hours to regulate fly-by-night transport operators.
“There is a growing trend by unscrupulous transport operators who only operate at night using un-roadworthy vehicles.
“Some do not even have number plates, making it risky to board a kombi at night. We urge the police and VID to increase their presence on the roads at night,” said Choga.
Choga also said his organisation was advocating enforcement of deterrent laws that punish vehicle owners who employ unlicensed drivers.
“We also propose the enactment of laws that severely punish kombi owners who employ undisciplined drivers who flout road rules that lead to deaths of innocent passengers. Kombi owners who let their un-roadworthy kombis onto the roads must be given custodial sentences,” added Choga.
Thomas Nyamutenha (37), a kombi driver who plies the Mabvuku route, concurred with Choga saying law enforcers in Harare should increase night patrols as many illegal operators, ranging from vendors and unlicensed transporters, have been taking advantage of Harare’s lax enforcement after-hours.
“Many illegal transport operators are now thriving at night due to the massive presence of law enforcers during the day only. It is a fact that most fatal accidents occur during the night,” says Nyamutenha.
However, there have been complaints over the high number of police checkpoints, which has led critics to believe that the increase in night-time roadblocks will add more misery to motorists.
Sean Quinlan of the Road Users Association (RUA), said though there is virtually no traffic authorities’ presence at night, having more roadblocks during that time will not be effective as traffic authorities are already struggling to control pirate transporters during the day.
“There is no reason to believe that ZRP and VID would take more of an interest at night . . . ZRP and VID need to apply the law across all sectors fairly — 24-hours a day,” said Quinlan.
Efforts to get comment from ZRP’s traffic section were fruitless, but one traffic police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to professional reasons, said the police always mount 24-hour roadblocks on some major roads.
“Nonetheless, we always increase both day time and night time roadblocks during public holidays due to the high number of accidents that occur during that time,” said the officer.
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