THE Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) has called for an urgent review on the number of roadblocks on the country’s roads and highways which is affecting the growth of the tourism industry.
BY TARISAI MANDIZHA
In a statement, ZCT chief executive Paul Matamisa said the roadblocks had become a primary area of concern for most travel and tourism operators.
He said the recent indications of a reduction in the number of roadblocks on urban and rural roads was welcome, but a suggestion made that there be ‘only one roadblock every 10km’ would actually have the effect of increasing rather than reducing numbers on major highways.
“As has been pointed out by many people and organisations in recent months, the roadblock situation has had a direct and negative impact on tourism,” he said.
“Domestic travel, which is almost entirely dependent on self-drive travel, has been reduced significantly by the roadblocks, as people prefer to stay at home than be exposed to the delays and hassle factor created by the presence of large number of roadblocks along all tourism travel routes.”
Matamisa said recent reports show that between Harare and Mutare, for example, there are sometimes in excess of 20 roadblocks, and some travellers report having been made to stop at each of these, “resulting in three-hour journeys becoming as long as six hours”.
He said the international travellers hiring vehicles or travelling in coaches and buses have also reported delays and were especially critical of what they described as hostility and aggressiveness on the part of personnel manning the roadblocks.
“It is a point raised again and again by tourists on departure and there have been reports of some foreign travellers gaining the very unfortunate and inaccurate impression that the country is in a state of unrest,” Matamisa said.
“The perception among most travellers is that road blocks do not serve the purpose of increasing road safety but rather that they are intended to raise funds for either the Zimbabwe Republic Police or the national treasury; whether this perception is factual or not, this perception exists and must be addressed, as it has created something of a public relations nightmare for Zimbabwe as a whole, not the least the travel and tourism sector.