Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) will from next week unveil standard roadblocks of at least four per province, as Government responds to concerns raised by tourists and motorists over high police presence on the roads. Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said yesterday that he had directed Police Commissioner-General Dr Augustine Chihuri to remove all unnecessary roadblocks.
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Dr Chombo, who was accompanied by his deputy Cde Obedingwa Mguni, was giving oral evidence before a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development chaired by Chegutu West MP Cde Dexter Nduna (Zanu-PF).
He said Government would soon unveil an electronic traffic management system that would integrate all transport stakeholders like the police, Vehicle Inspection Department (VID), Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara), Road Motor Transport and Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) 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,” said Cde Chombo.
“He is seized with the matter. When there is an incident at a certain point, you can’t say because there is too much roadblocks, I cannot mount a roadblock. You have got to. But I think you cannot mount a roadblock simply because you want to raise money. No.
“That is why we are saying “necessary”. We want the police to do their work, but we also want the public to have a hassle free travel. We really want to ensure that a proper balance is maintained. But this electronic initiative is panacea to all the problems we are talking about. It will address spot fines and everything literally.”
Deputy Minister Mguni weighed in: “By next week, we would have started zoning system where road blocks will be put according to province and a province should have not more than four roadblocks”.
He said the number of roadblocks would be raised if there were security concerns aimed at combating crimes such as robberies and human and drug trafficking.
“These are the core aspects of the police,” said Deputy Minister Mguni. “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.
“If it is integrated, it will show that by this time City Link (bus) should be at this point, that is why we can say we can do with four roadblocks per province so we do not have to waste time, unless there has been crime like robberies and so forth.”
Deputy Minister 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 vehicle.
Cde Nduna hailed Minister Chombo for taking drastic efforts to reduce roadblocks starting next week, which he said had been a thorn in the flesh of motorists.
In response Minister Chombo said: “Let me be very clear that these are the standard routines that they (the police) will put in place. If there are thieves that are stealing cars, roadblocks will become necessary, thieves cannot celebrate that roadblocks are now few, there will be as enough roadblocks to arrest the thieves.”
Minister Chombo said some of the roadblocks on highways would be those that would have been requested by State agencies such as the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation to collect radio listener fees and VID checking fitness of vehicles.
Some of the roadblocks mounted by the police were to check compliance like speed limits, fitness of vehicles, while others had been for security checks where law enforcement agencies would randomly search vehicles.
In other instances, the police mounted roadblocks to assist the VID, ZBC in collection of radio licences and Zinara to check for motor vehicle licences.
Turning to the King Lion bus service that recently killed 43 people along the Harare-Chirundu Highway, Minister Chombo said police were still making investigations surrounding the accident.
He said some of the investigations included checking what time the bus passed the Inkomo Barracks tollgate and the Chinhoyi toll gate to assess the speed at which it was travelling.
Cde Chombo said Government had set up a Cabinet Committee headed by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Cde Saviour Kasukuwere to explore ways of curbing accidents and addressing traffic management challenges.