Lloyd Gumbo Mr Speaker, Sir
A few days ago I witnessed an accident at the intersection of Robert Mugabe Road and Sam Nujoma Street where drivers of two vehicles, one coming from the north and the other from the west did not give way to each other resulting in a collision right in the centre of the intersection.
The accident worsened the flow of traffic on the two roads as the two drivers accused each other and negotiated.
The major reason they collided was because the two drivers did not follow driving rules on how to enter a road intersection, particularly that which is not traffic-lights controlled.
Money changers, who are usually stationed near the traffic lights at the Eastgate mall, immediately gathered at the scene of the accident as they narrated how many vehicles had collided at the traffic lights since they stopped functioning.
They said on average, about four accidents were recorded at the intersection every week in the last month.
That is the period the traffic lights have not been functioning.
Meanwhile, about 20 metres from the accident scene, a city truck full of marshals was clamping vehicles that had not yet paid their parking fees.
Then at Sam Nujoma and Nelson Mandela, another Harare City Council truck was confiscating vendors’ wares for selling at undesignated places.
Mr Speaker Sir, while the biggest problem that every thinking Zimbabwean has reluctantly accepted is that poor service delivery from the local authority or authorities is here to stay, they have on the other hand continued to pay for services but sometimes with no favour in return from local authorities.
In the case of the accident referred above, the traffic lights at the intersection have not been functioning for the past month, yet there is no appetite in the local authority to fix the traffic lights to enable a smooth flow of traffic.
In countries such as South Africa, they are always quick to fix traffic lights whenever there is a fault to ensure smooth flow of traffic and to curb accidents.
Yet here, there are roads that have been neglected for a very long time, even huge potholes as a result of roads collapsing, have been left for days.
Street lights in some areas have gone for months malfunctioning while road markings in some sections are not visible at all.
Garbage collection in some areas has been skipped for weeks while water supplies have been erratic.
Yet against all this background, the local authority does not seem to care about fulfilling its core mandate, which is delivery on all the expectations cited above.
Mr Speaker Sir, the local authority or authorities seem to be more interested in collecting money from motorists without investing the same on the road users so that they can get value for their money.
For instance, traffic lights are of great importance in the city centre given the traffic jams that motorists are subjected to at intersections whose traffic lights are malfunctioning.
Some vehicles have plunged into huge potholes that Harare City Council ignores for days, in the process resulting in motorists incurring costs because of the poor workmanship by the local authority.
Damages related to potholes are very expensive and motorists have to incur them almost on a daily basis as vehicle suspensions and shocks are affected due to bumps and potholes.
On the other hand, residents are robbed due to poor lighting on the roads while others have fallen into wells as they try to fetch water since their taps are dry.
Some residents are forced to burn their garbage which is not environmentally friendly as a result of delays by local authorities to collect garbage.
It, therefore, baffles the mind why the local authority seems to be more interested in clamping vehicles that have not paid parking fees or are parked wrongly, yet turns a blind eye on a service that they must offer like fixing the traffic lights.
If only they translated the speed at which they clamp vehicles to service delivery, then we would be one of the best run cities in the world.
But the local authorities seem to think their main objective is to collect revenues through whatever means while service delivery is relegated down their ladder of priorities.
It would seem the local authorities are investing more in vehicles for confiscating vendors’ wares instead of pothole patchers and refuse collection trucks.
In Harare, there are more City Park agents than those fixing the roads, otholes or traffic lights, which reveals their main thrust, which is that of revenue collection than service delivery.
It makes it difficult for motorists to pay parking fees when there are roads with poor road markings, malfunctioning traffic lights.
Mr Speaker Sir, only a few days ago, Chitungwiza town clerk George Makunde was complaining before a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee that the wage reduction by Government was not fair on him and his family, claiming that $4 500 that he is currently paid is not a living salary.
His salary was reduced from $10 000 following a Government salary-cap of $6 000 that it imposed on Government parastatals and enterprises as well as local authorities.
Makunde’s complaint was revealing as he displayed that he is more interested in his salary to satisfy his family’s needs and nothing on service delivery.
Revelations of former Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi’s earnings and his subsequent demands as severance package say it all.
This is the kind of leadership we have at local authorities, who think they are there to line their pockets instead of service delivery.
They seem to care less about refuse collection, traffic lights, water supply and potholes.
It is high time local authorities spare us the hypocrisy of demanding payments for services they are failing to provide.
Why should they rush to clamp a vehicle for not paying $1 parking fees per hour instead of fixing traffic lights that are causing accidents?