Gerald Maguranyanga Traffic Friday
Many cities around the world, probably most, suffer a never-ending, general litter problem. Zimbabwean cities do not fare any better, what with unappealing loads of rubbish virtually everywhere you cast your eyes.
The proliferating litter problem has become even more pronounced in recent years.
Virtually all our local authorities struggle to collect and dump rubbish at the appropriate sites.
Aided by the exponential growth of the cities, the litter problem has become a non-stop headache particularly in the larger metropolitans like Harare and Bulawayo, fed by the uncontrolled increase in the rural-urban migration. Litter has steadily been suffocating the so-called Sunshine City, which has miserably lost much shine to dirt.
It does not help the already poor aesthetics of many of our potholed, bumpy and unmarked roads, the unclean habits that many drivers and passengers suffer from.
The toss-out-litter-through-the-window habit is an everyday, unthinking reflex action of many, if not most drivers who seemingly are never bothered by the consequences of their ill-mannered actions. Mweya wetsvina chaiwo!
Bus passengers have routinely perpetrated the “marara panze” habit since I was a teenage regular on any type of the famed “chicken bus” you could think of.
Whether it was on the brief Glen Norah-Machipisa (Highfield) hop, or long distance Harare-Mount Darwin-Harare itinerary, I grew up seeing everyone tossing out litter through the bus window and I learnt from the very best!
Litter dumping through the window was the done thing!
You wouldn’t dare litter the bus because the menacing bus conductor or loader would have none of it!
In fact, I am just recalling that most buses actually came with prominent, clear-as-daylight, threatening bold-letter print on the inside of the bus; a warning of sorts – “marara panze”!
Zimbabwe has beautiful countryside, especially in certain low population areas between towns. That natural savanna beauty is under serious threat from all manner of litter; carelessly discarded cigarette butts, glass bottles, beer and soft drink cans, plastic soft drink and bottled water bottles, plastic bags, all sorts of paper litter, etc.
So, the fact is, the pathetic toss-out-litter-through-the-window habit is as old as public buses in this land. Generations have lived it as a way of life and have duly passed on the filth legacy!
To turn around from it may require two things, massive re-education initially to “sensitise” all of us in the hope of weaning us off the rubbish-tossing habit.
Eventually, the responsible authorities, the police, the courts, etc, would have to come hard on unrepentant delinquents by way of stiffer penalties and other deterrent measures.
Tossing out litter through the window, other than being one of the major causes of environmental litter, is a clear and present danger to trailing and opposing traffic. Accidents have been recorded after a careless someone sloppily ejected litter through the window and hit the windscreen of another motor vehicle inducing a sudden surprise and a loss of control by the victim driver.
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has in recent months, however, made a few correct noises demanding that every vehicle carries a litter bag by each seat so that passengers can use for all litter they create.
EMA is a statutory institution set up to regulate the sustainable management of natural resources and the protection of the environment, prevention of pollution and environmental degradation and was established under the Environmental Management Act.
One of their big tasks is preventing the degradation of the environment through litter thrown from motor vehicles.
EMA spokesperson Steady Kangata has previously deplored that their attempts to contain environmental pollution were hampered by the standard fines imposed on culprits which were not deterrent enough.
The same could be said about existing general city by-laws pertaining to littering from a vehicle in each jurisdiction. On the other hand, the small fines have not been consistently applied, if at all.
Traffic Friday exhorts each driver, as the commander of their vehicle, to ensure no passenger ever tosses out any litter of any sort.
It defiles the environment and could also be dangerous to other road users. Besides, it is just poor class to be seen throwing litter everywhere. Sadly, in many cases it is usually the “smart” driver that demands of passengers to throw litter out of her vehicle. Where we the drivers and passengers are unwilling to conform to anti-littering laws, may the authorities intervene with more than a slap on the wrist.
Traffic Friday therefore encourages the various legally mandated authorities such as EMA, police and local councils to intensify their litter dumping monitoring and enforcement activities around motor vehicles.
Our roads and cities are being overrun by rubbish. Zimbabwe prides itself in being a top tourist destination. If current rates of littering are not controlled, our countryside, roads and general thoroughfares will soon be quite unsightly if they are not already so, helping to put off tourists, whose green bucks we crave for in Zimbabwe.
Name and shame
A ZBC Marketing vehicle, registration ACM 2667, a Mazda BT50, absolutely shocked me along Enterprise Road on Monday, city-bound at about 8:55am. The pick-up truck was grossly overloaded and had its back wheels squatting quite low. It was easy to see why.
The load area, covered by a canopy, was over-packed full of human cargo! Come on ZBC. Yes, times are hard at the corporation and in the land generally but please, refrain from nonchalantly endangering your vital human resources in that uncivil manner please.
Such a grossly overloaded vehicle, your poor driver will confess, amongst many other clear hazards, is demanding to control and is an open invitation to potentially deadly trouble. You uniquely become Traffic Friday’s first corporate organisation to earn the tag,“Rombe Resvondo Rino”.
It’s a Friday; let’s keep the driving ‘happy, happy!’
Gerald Maguranyanga moderates Road Safety Africa, on www.facebook.com/RoadSafetyAfrica , an interactive community page that solicits ideas to curb road traffic accidents in Zimbabwe and Africa. Feedback: WhatsApp… +263 772205300