Transport is essential to the economic development of many countries around the globe hence the responsible authorities must ensure the smooth running of the sector so that it remain viable.
The issue of congestion has been a major issue in most parts in Harare, which has seen an increase in the number of road accidents and delays in passengers to reach their respective work stations.
The million dollar question, many people would want to know is what the responsible authorities are doing to address the problem of both congestion on Harare’s roads as well as issues of public transport safety.
Recently the Minister of Transport, Communication and Infrastructural Development, Obert Mpofu announced that government intends to ban Kombis. The main reason he gave for this policy action that his ministry is convinced that kombis are the major cause of congestion in the capital city’s Central business District (CBD). He intends to replace them with metro buses to be acquired by government from China through a private transport consortium. This is not a new phenomenon with the government of Zimbabwe which has acquired buses from China which the Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (ZUPCO) has been using for decades with limited improvement on the challenge of congestion.
Many of the ZUPCO buses are grounded due to miss management and there is yet to be announced reasons why the acquisition of Metro buses will be any different.
Kombi driver Moffat Mandokwa pirating Chitungwiza-Harare said banning of Kombis is not a remedy in decongesting our roads.
“If Kombis are banned totally it will solve nothing especially at a time like this where unemployment rate is very high.
“Kombis are paying up their royalties to the city council and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) raises most of its operational money from spot fines,” he said
Lloyd Mashiri a passenger lambasted the idea of banning Kombis saying the move is not welcome while citing the lack of flexibility of buses compared to kombis.
“Congestion is not caused by commuters, our roads have now became death traps and very narrow to accommodate the ever increasing volume of traffic.
“The responsible authorities need to copy from other nations like South Africa where the roads are clearly in good condition,” said Mashiri.
In a statement via email, the City of Harare spokesperson said it was busy building kombis holding bays along Coventry road. He further went on to say that City of Harare was to blame as it had noticed the volume of vehicle population grow without widening the roads.
“Raised motorways are part of the solution but it was not included in the capital budget for this year, our target is also to install solar traffic lights but out of the targeted 68 we have managed to install 18,” said Mr. Leslie Gwindi in a written statement.
On a different note ZRP is also to blame on congestion as it can be clearly witnessed on the way they are manning roadblocks. Travelling from Highfields to town a distance of 18 km takes 45 minutes instead of 15 minutes due to road blocks on the way.
We can take example from our neighbor country South Africa to get an idea on how they managed to decongest their roads. South Africa has been embarking on the construction of freeways and flyovers a as a strategy against congestion for all forms of road transport.
Instead of banning kombis local authority must make sure that operators should go to fixed routes and having different registered number plates for specific routes. Road maintenance has been neglected leaving most roads as death traps due to gullies, which has been impacting negatively when it comes to congestion and road carnage.