Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
Commuters who board lifts from undesignated points in towns and cities now risk arrest and paying fines of up to $200 in a move tailored to stop the pirate taxi menace and protect travellers and shoppers.
The proposal is contained in Statutory Instrument 41 of 2016 of the Road Traffic (Traffic Signs and Signals) Regulations that was gazetted in April.
- Mayor admits failure to rid city of pirate taxis
- Blitz to flush out pirate taxis
- Mushika-shika taxis wreak havoc
- Menace of Harare’s traffic jungle
- Police impound over 100 pirate taxis
- ‘Mishikashika’ operators heed council’s call
- 130 unregistered cars, pirate taxis impounded
- ‘Mshika-shika’ refuses to die
The Statutory Instrument includes a sign that prohibits the boarding of lifts at undesignated places.
The sign has a crossed thumb and marked R207 where it’s stated that the sign indicates to “a pedestrian that he or she shall not attempt to secure a lift from a passing vehicle and the driver of a vehicle that he or she shall not pick up passengers.
“This prohibition on hitch-hiking is effective for a distance of 500 metres beyond such sign.”
It is the responsibility of local authorities to erect the signs in the cities and towns with some of them already up in line with the Sadc Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology of 1999.
Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe spokesperson Mr Ernest Muchena said once the signs were up, commuters would be arrested for hitch-hiking at undesignated places.
“If it’s erected, it means that around that area, nobody should hitch-hike,” said Mr Muchena.
“The fines are up to level five which gives room to the police to charge where one can pay admission of guilty which is $20. If one decides not to pay admission of guilty and contests the charge, they then go to court. In that case the court will use its own discretion from level one up to level five, which is $200.”
Mr Muchena urged commuters to stop hitch-hiking at such places for their own safety and other pedestrians.
He said getting transport at designated points allowed commuters an opportunity to inspect the state of the public transport they are boarding such as tyres and windscreens.
Mr Muchena said it was also a punishable offence to vandalise traffic signs, as such anyone found on the wrong side of the law would be prosecuted.
Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said: “This is a positive development because it will empower law enforcement agents to apprehend offenders and also empower the legal system to prosecute offenders.”
Several commuters and pedestrians have lately been injured or killed by reckless commuters evading law enforcers as they pick up hitch-hikers from undesignated points.