Police yesterday arrested almost 1 000 drivers of unregistered, plate-less and unlicensed vehicles, and impounded 784 vehicles, on the first of a nationwide operation aimed at getting rid of criminal elements and making all motorists comply with registration, insurance and licensing laws.
Of the 967 arrested motorists, 179 paid spot fines and four were given summons to appear in court.
There was heavy police presence on roads leading into central Harare with major roadblocks along Bulawayo Road and Seke Road, with check points both at the flyover leading into the city centre and at Manyame Bridge between Harare and Chitungwiza.
Police could be seen impounding vehicles that were not displaying number plates and those without motor insurance. You cannot licence a vehicle without first having insurance, so an uninsured vehicle will automatically be unlicensed.
Deputy national police Spokesperson Chief Superintendent Blessmore Chishaka said the blitz was progressing well.
“The operation is targeting unlicensed, plate-less and unregistered vehicles and has started off with a total of 967 arrests being made countrywide on the first day. Of these, 784 had their vehicles impounded and 179 motorists were fined for various offences while four others were issued with notices to appear in court.
“The ZRP continues to urge members of the public to desist from using plate-less and unregistered vehicles. We continue to urge motorists to abide by the law and comply with police directives. As we carry out this operation, the motoring public is advised that there are no exemptions as far as this operation is concerned,” he said.
“All plate-less, unregistered and unlicensed motor vehicles, including Government vehicles, will be impounded and cases referred to court for prosecution. The operation is being conducted to account for criminals who are committing crimes using these plate-less, unregistered and unlicensed motor vehicles.
“We continue to warn all those with criminal intentions that we will be ruthless with them in ensuring that order prevails on our roads,” said Chief Supt Chishaka.
Legal motorists are fully behind the police.
“This is a good move in curbing crime. In case of a hit and run accident it is hard to track down someone without number plates. Police should be applauded for such a noble cause. We want order in our country as most of these unregistered vehicles were being reported at crime scenes,” said Mrs Angeline Chikukwa at a road block at Harare Exhibition Park.
Another motorist, Mr Tafadzwa Ndaba said the blitz should be widespread.
“Police should also move around impounding such vehicles. There are cars mostly being used by pirate taxi operators that are using roads in residential areas but going for years without paying any motor vehicle licence fees. They complain of bad roads yet they do not contribute anything towards their maintenance.”
Others thought the exercise needed to be backed by faster action on registration. Mr Ephraim Zisengwe said while the blitz was welcome, the issuance of number plates should be accelerated.
“Government assured that the issuance of number plates was being addressed but since there was a huge backlog, the issuance should be faster to benefit the public.”
New plates are now being issued but many plate-less vehicles do not even have the temporary plates that have always been available to cover the gap between delivery of a vehicle and its tax clearance and registration.
City Parking spokesperson Mr Francis Mandaza said the blitz would stop people cheating on parking charges.
“The issue of unregistered vehicles is a challenge in our operations because when a vehicle is unregistered you are not able to log it with a unique identification just like we do with registered ones where the registration number is the unique identification for a particular vehicle.
“These are the vehicles that are not complying with parking and traffic by-laws and we are facing compliance challenges because you cannot enforce regulations on unregistered vehicles.
“We implore the relevant authorities to ensure that all vehicles are registered and these are also cars that may be used to commit crimes. Some of them are not even paying parking fees,” he said.
Government has said it now has enough number plates after adequate raw materials were secured for the manufacture of the plates.
Recently, the Central Vehicle Registry partnered with Zimpost to enable people to collect their number plates from the nearest post office as the Government moves to decentralise operations for public benefit and clear the backlog.