Government clarifies roadblocks issue

 Cde Mguni

Cde Mguni

Auxilia Katongomara Bulawayo Bureau
Government yesterday said only standard roadblocks will be reduced to four per province, but numerous spot checks by police within cities and towns will remain in place, dampening celebrations by motorists and public transport operators who thought they would now get a reprieve from harassment by law enforcement agents.

A standard roadblock has a Police Ahead sign, drums and flashing lights.

Home Affairs Deputy Minister Cde Obedingwa Mguni said it is the standard roadblocks that have been reduced to four per province and what motorists called roadblocks along routes leading to city centres or growth points were in fact spot checks.

Giving oral evidence before a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development in Harare on Monday, the Minister of Home Affairs Dr Ignatius Chombo, who was accompanied by his deputy Cde Mguni, said as from next week the police would unveil at least four standard roadblocks per province.

This was in response to concerns by tourists and motorists regarding the prevalence of police on the roads.

Public transporters and pirate taxi operators, who thought they would get a reprieve from what they termed police harassment at roadblocks, had their celebrations cut short following Cde Mguni’s explanation.

“A standard roadblock is one which consists of more than three officers, with the security barriers like drums, boomgates and other things that can be used to block or control traffic, signs to indicate that there are police ahead as well as a blue flashing light at night,” Cde Mguni said.

He said besides the standard roadblocks, there were highway patrols and checkpoints, where traffic police can stop motorists to check on some things as part of their duties.

“There are others which we call a highway patrol where the police can go with a patrol car and if they see a suspicious car they can stop it there and then and that can create something we call a checkpoint.

Checkpoints are set up when the police would have gathered information on a crime or are enforcing compliance with statutes. They set them up to check whether the information they have been given is accurate,” said Cde Mguni.

“Those standard roadblocks I mentioned are those that I said there could be one standard roadblock per district or four per province, that is what we are planning to do to reduce the roadblocks. But it doesn’t mean the checkpoints won’t be there, the highway patrols won’t be there; so people must not mix it up. Police are allowed to do spot checks, they are allowed to do highway patrols. This must be articulated correctly”.

Motorists who spoke to our Bulawayo Bureau yesterday were jubilant as they assumed that the four roadblocks per province would rid the city of the many checkpoints on the roads. A fuming motorist yesterday said he had passed three checkpoints along a six-kilometre stretch of Luveve Road in the morning.

“That’s an average of two roadblocks per two kilometres. The police are only there to frustrate motorists and demand bribes,” said the motorist who preferred anonymity. Mr Thabani Moyo, another resident who is among thousands of motorists who believed Dr Chombo meant checkpoints would be abolished, said: “This is a welcome development because we are tired of police stopping us here and there. For example, when one is travelling to Plumtree, they pass through an average of five roadblocks, which is too much considering that it’s a 100 kilometre highway.”

A taxi driver Mr Victor Mutasa said while the issue of four roadblocks was welcome, police would maximise on them to squeeze as much money out of motorists as possible.

“Few roadblocks mean more money to the motorist. The police will make sure that they identify as many offences as possible to make up for other roadblocks that would have been reduced,” said Mr Mutasa.

Kombi crews also expressed joy that they would operate “freely” as they would no longer be paying “tollgate fees”. All the celebrations came to an end when motorists were given Deputy Minister Mguni’s clarification.

“What it basically means is that nothing has changed. We will still be subject to harassment and demands for bribes from the police. They should have dealt with the intra-city roadblocks because they cause the most misery to commuters and transporters every day,” said Mr Conrad Majaya, a kombi driver.

Dr Chombo on Monday said Government would soon unveil an electronic traffic management system that would integrate all transport stakeholders like the police, Vehicle Inspection Department, Zimbabwe National Roads Administration, Road Motor Transport and Central Vehicle Registry to bring to an end to traffic management challenges.

“We have told the Commissioner-General of Police to reduce or remove all unnecessary roadblocks and leave the necessary ones,” he said.

Cde Mguni said the number of roadblocks would be increased if there were security concerns and operations aimed at combating crimes such as robberies, human and drug trafficking.

“These are the core aspects of the police,” he said.

“These other things were being done on behalf of the Vehicle Inspection Department.

“There is no need for police to check on fitness of vehicles, the route whether or not it is the correct route of the bus”.

Cde Mguni said roadblocks would be carried out by traffic police alone, while other officers would be deployed at highway patrols to check for speeding motorists, particularly passenger service vehicles.

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  • cecil gomba

    what a farce!

  • Chekuseri

    The 4 roadblocks story was too good to be true. The motorists and tourists outcry is not just on the roadblocks, its on the so-called spot checks which are dotted all over including residential areas and even on a road with a close. The standard roadblocks have become a thing of the past, police do not waste time setting up those these days. Two or three chaps in police uniform can mount a spot check and this is what our concern is on. Why do we need spot checks after every two kilometers as if we are a country at war or we have unofficially become a police state maybe.

  • Umfansimbi

    I thought PIGS will fly if our government ever did something so good. They don’t care about long term gains but short term. The economy can go to hell and back

  • Tired

    I wish the opposition will use the issue of roadblocks as one of their major campaign tools for 2018. I will vote for anyone who can make the “check point” go away.

  • Cecil Roars

    Sometimes its better to have no government than to have a bad one. This is an example of a really bad government.

  • G Tichatonga

    There is only one way of ridding ourselves of these spot checks…film the corrupt officers and post video on social media. #Taneta

  • Makepekepe1

    The police has made a saving on the number of drums and flashing lights that they use only otherwise they are still on the road.

  • Mrs M

    Let us call a spade a spade, these are not checkpoints they are fundraising points. All they want is money!!! Why are there so many of these so called check points? are the police so inefficient that they need so many of these checkpoints? Stop harassing us please!

  • Masaisai

    Now I understand the adage ” the more things change, the more they remain the same”.

  • mbuya oni

    WHY HAS TRAFFIC BECOME THE BIGGEST SIN IN ZIMBABWE??? ALL CITIZENS WANT TO DO IS GET FROM THIS PLACE TO THAT. IF THEY THINK THEY ARE DOING GOOD IT SHOWS HOW SHALLOW THEY ARE…..TAKE $20 FROM AN OLD GOGO LIKE ME….LOSE $1000 IN TOURISM AND BUSINES TRAVEL. THEY ARE HURTING THE ECONOMY MORE….BUT THEN AGAIN ZIM NGEYE MADHIRI TINGODA MARI IPAPO IPAPO. IGNORANCE!!!

  • theheraldonline

    Morning xyz. Our job is to inform you about what is happening. What we are writing is what is happening. We can not have our own opinion in news reports. News reports have to be based on the facts that we gather. Opinion comes through our Editorial Comment found on this website. So, we are right to quote the authorities promising to reduce the number of road blocks, and we are also correct in making a follow up on this issue and still quote the same authorities making a clarification.

    • Tarubva

      Since you have already wrote an editorial praising the authorities for their earlier promise, are you going to pen a new one trashing their about-turn? Let’s see your integrity here!

    • Mhofu Chaiyo

      NOOO!! You were very wrong because you clearly quoted authorities out of context! Just admit it! Why call a story a follow up when it actually presents a completely different scenario, not a clarification!?

  • Zim Nhakayangu

    Yesterday I made this comment- “Road blocks reduced! Oh yea! They were not many at all. Police check- points will remain intact if not increased to compensate reduced road blocks. Jargon!!”

  • simba

    yeah thats very true because we are not concerned about drums or police ahead sign on the road what we want is for the police to be reduced whether with drums or not because in other words theres nothing that have been reduced from my view

  • Cry the Beloved Country

    The circus goes on. LOL. Tourists can go elsewhere where they are needed. Our sovereignty does not have space for these foreigners called tourists. People can be late for work and no one cares. People can drive after nid-night to avoid “spot checks”. …Kicks of a dying horse… kkk
    2018 here we come…