Freeman Razemba, Harare Bureau
THE Government has bowed down to pressure from motorists and the public to reduce the number of roadblocks on the roads.
Over half of tourists interviewed during a recent Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency survey said they felt harassed by the increased police presence on the country’s roads.
Delegates attending last year’s Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Congress rapped the police for mounting a chain of roadblocks on the roads saying they were an impediment to the ease of doing business. A motorist travelling from Harare to Victoria Falls, for example, will probably go through 24 roadblocks.
Speaking at a press conference in Harare yesterday, Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said Government was fully aware of complaints over the number of roadblocks on the roads.
“Let me assure you that my ministry is working on a number of initiatives to find lasting solutions to this problem. May I also appeal to the nation to bear in mind that roadblocks are an important tool for the Zimbabwe Republic Police to maintain law and order.
“As the Ministry of Home Affairs through the Zimbabwe Republic Police command structure we are working on rationalising the number of roadblocks on our roads as a short term solution to people’s complaints,” he said.
Dr Chombo said the police force, in pursuant of its mandate of maintaining law and order as enshrined in Section 219 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, continued to harness modern technologies in its endeavour to offer world class services as well as ensuring transparency and accountability in all its engagements.
“In this regard, the Zimbabwe Republic Police in November 2016 signed a Private-Public Partnership deal with Univern Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd culminating in the establishment of an Electronic Traffic Management System.
“The major aim of this system is to improve service delivery through the provision of transparent and accountable traffic enforcements, curb vehicle theft, bring sanity to our roads, curb corruption and above all, automate traffic enforcements,” he said.
He said the Electronic Traffic Management System had already linked the Vehicle Theft Squad to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Developments entities such as the Vehicle Inspection Department and Central Vehicle Registry under the Zimbabwe Transport Information System platforms and toll gates.
He said this linkage would enable traffic stations, police roadblocks, tollgates, ports of entry and mobile patrols to interact and make online queries to verify the status of suspect vehicles.
“Links to the sub-regional police database on stolen motor vehicles will now be possible through linkage with the Interpol (1-24/7) communication system.
We believe that once this system is fully operational the number of roadblocks will be greatly reduced and most of the concerns from the general public will be addressed,” Dr Chombo said.
Meanwhile, Dr Chombo sent a condolence message to the families of 14 people who died in a horrific accident along the Bulawayo-Gwanda Road.
The 14 people from two families were travelling in a commuter omnibus on their way to a funeral in Masvingo. They died when a haulage truck collided with their vehicle in a horrific accident near the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo.
The accident happened at about 10pm on Wednesday.
“May I also take this opportunity to urge all motorists to exercise caution on our roads which are in bad shape due to incessant rains and floods we are currently experiencing to avoid loss of lives,” Dr Chombo said.
He said the ministry through the Lotteries and Gaming Board has offered a total of $7 000 to the families of the deceased — $500 for each victim.
Dr Chombo said the ministry has a mandate to save lives and the police were the first responders to any crisis and as such, they stood ready together with other arms of Government to assist victims of flooding.
He urged members of the public to take heed of warnings issued by the Meteorological Services Department and the Civil Protection Unit so as to avoid loss of lives.