Harare’s Mayor has condemned the ludicrous number of police roadblocks in Harare and the terrible state of the roads as being painful to residents, and a deterrent to tourism.
While presenting his second State Of The City address last month, Manyenyeni described the efforts between the ZRP and council’s Trafficable Roads Team as disjointed.
“Allow me to share the grief of the excessive number of roadblocks mounted by the ZRP in the city. This is one of the most annoying aspects of living in Harare. The pain of the roadblocks is widely shared in our communities and has been exported by visitors to further de-market and derail tourism in the city and in the country,” he said.
Motorists in Harare complain that despite their best efforts to comply they are forced to pay fines at the steadily increasing number of police stops popping up at almost every turn. It is becoming so bad that at times traffic fines can exceed the already high costs of running and maintaining a vehicle. What’s more, motorists can be detained for hours while police try to extort cash from them. This keeps them away from work, and paying fines after long waits carries direct and indirect economic consequences for the individual and the economy at large.
Matthias Deta of Kuwadzana says it now almost seems like a crime to drive a car in Harare as each roadblock conjures up a new offense.
“Given the roadblocks I encounter during a 30 minute drive to work, one would assume I am carrying contraband. A person who takes kombis to work might actually get to their destination faster than me as commuter omnibus drivers seem to have negotiated with police to pay a fixed amount per day without being harassed or receiving a ticket.”
“We are tired of this. Police want money from us, ZINARA wants more but where does the money go?” he queried.
With so many personnel absorbed into manning roadblocks, the public are left wondering who is left to investigate crime and violence.
Further hampering council’s plans of turning Harare into a world class city by 2025 – which Manyenyeni said is now impossible – is the sorry state of the roads that has left many international visitors to the capital city wondering what the rest of the country looks like.
During his speech, Manyenyeni said that, “Not only are motorists worried by the excessive roadblocks, but the roads themselves are in such a deplorable state making driving in Harare more disheartening. The state of the city’s roads is sore and sorry and the residents are pained.”
Road Users Association (RUA), which has been at the forefront of advocating against the mounting of excessive roadblocks in the country, painted a negative picture of plight of the driver on Harare’s potholed roads. RUA spokesperson Sean Quinlan said that the ratio of revenue-expenditure on our roads was unsatisfactory.
“The funds received by ZINARA from its activities , including toll gates, vehicle licensing and other income streams far exceed the amount of funds allocated to road maintenance”, he said.
Whilst recent months have seen motorists get savvy as to the law, and increasingly stand up for their rights, it seems at times that the odds will remain stacked against them as a cash-strapped government squeezes every last drop from the public it claims to serve.