EDITORIAL COMMENT: Well done, City leaders
Some of the commuter omnibuses that were impounded by Harare City Council for defying a directive to use the Coventry Road holding bay. – (Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)
AFTER years of inertia induced by lack of problem-solving skills and willpower apparently drained by a proclivity for self-aggrandisement at the expense of service delivery, the City of Harare administration has finally proved that they can get something right.
The municipal authorities have proved that it is possible to end the chaos brought about by kombis without necessarily banning that particular mode of public transport.
Too many lives were lost in futile running battles as police officers from the city and the national force went after kombi crews without proffering effective solutions.
This in turn fed the idea that kombis could just do as they pleased because they were victims of police brutality.
The introduction of a holding bay outside the city centre has proved to be a great measure for de-congesting one part of the city centre, as advocates of the move have been claiming for a long time. Regulating the number of kombis to only those that have space has a ripple effect as the benefits are felt beyond that one street.
Many motorists are happy that the Chinhoyi Street has once again become an ordinary thoroughfare, instead of a lawless jungle which you could only traverse at the risk of life and limb.
Even better, there is a ripple effect across that area of the CBD as vehicles that are now free to use Chinhoyi Street are reducing traffic on other streets which they would normally take to avoid the chaos along that road.
Another positive development is the incidental side-lining of the self-appointed rank marshals, whose extortionate tendencies were becoming more mafia-like with each passing day.
These vultures were forcing the kombis to pay for the privilege of using the termini which they do not own.
It is hoped that the same measure of holding bays will be introduced for all other termini in time, but urgently for the Fourth Street one, which remains a veritable jungle.
At this point we hope that the municipal leadership will remain steadfast in enforcing the use of holding bays.
The idea to hit the operators in the pocket by introducing a 14-day lock-up in the impound yard for vehicles driven by rogue crews will convince everyone to toe the line.
Missing half of their operations potential in a month should deter even the most hot-headed people from trying to bypass the system. But to ensure that the system remains effective, the old scourge of corruption must not be allowed to rear its ugly head.
The weakest link in the chain is likely to be at the termini where unscrupulous municipal officials could be bribed to allow vehicles that have not come through the holding bay to load. Rigorous spot checks, constant supervision and other measures are needed to ensure that the system remains credible so that everyone follows it.
Perhaps the city needs to consider investing in an automated system which will remove the element of human weaknesses from the equation, but that is for the future, once the basics have been spread to all termini.
But meanwhile we congratulate the city fathers for doing at least one thing right and urge them to adopt that same proactive attitude of finding practical solutions to problems in all other areas like water and sewerage reticulation, waste collection and disposal and road maintenance.