LAST week, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) issued a statement pledging to reduce the number of roadblocks on the country’s roads.
The statement, which was signed by police spokesperson, Charity Charamba, said the police had taken note of public concern on the number of roadblocks on the roads, and had therefore taken measures “to trim these roadblocks”.
“We appeal to the public to advise the police if they feel that a certain road or point has too many roadblocks,” Charamba said.
We are gratified that the ZRP is now responding to public concerns on the roadblock menace in the country.
At the beginning of this month, we pointed out that police roadblocks littering our roads were detrimental to current initiatives to turnaround this economy.
There is need for action to protect both foreign and local tourists from harassment of any form, both on our roads and at the country’s entry and exit points. We pointed out that the standard of policing now common on our roads, which is now characterised by armies of officers with iron spikes leaves a lot to be desired.
Our concern had been triggered largely by a government survey which disclosed that foreign tourists were infuriated by the numerous police roadblocks on the country’s roads. The international tourists alleged that they had been harassed at the numerous police roadblocks, which have equally become conduits for sleaze by some unashamed members of the police force.
A few of these have been arrested, but the scourge has become so widespread that wholesale changes may be necessary to deal with the problem.
As we have pointed out, there is no investment required in dealing with this scourge. We would want to reiterate that if we persist on this path we will be forced to splurge millions trying to convince sceptical international tourists to visit our wonderful tourist attractions.
The latest decision by the police to address the public concern on roadblocks is therefore very encouraging, and demonstrates a commitment to the service charter which many thought had been long abandoned.
We now hope deeds will follow the words; this will go a long way towards fostering public confidence in our police force which should act in the best interest of the country.
As Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Walter Mzembi, told this newspaper last month, we need security checkpoints on our roads. The security checkpoint should act as facilitators of peace and security, which are integral components for fruitful economic endeavours, including tourism.
We would also be happy to see the police abandoning the regime of iron spikes that now characterise the roadblocks. The spikes are thrown under moving vehicles regardless of the danger this poses to road users.
They represent a regression towards primitive law enforcement methods rather than progression towards modern methods of maintaining order on the roads.