HARARE mayor Bernard Manyenyeni has defended the police’s ongoing blitz on errant commuter omnibus drivers saying the move was meant to restore sanity and decongest the city centre.
Manyenyeni told NewsDay yesterday said that there was little council could do to end the police-kombi wars as the local authority did not have adequate resources to complete construction of holding bays for the large volumes of commuter omnibuses plying city routes.
His remarks came following complaints by residents who accused police of chasing after kiombi drivers, causing fatal accidents. Last week, a four-year-old boy Neil Tanatswa Mutyora was run over by a fleeing commuter omnibus.
“The police have a job to do and dealing with kombi drivers is one of them. They (drivers) must be responsible and respect appropriate parking and pick-up points, but there is nothing council can do and should do,” he added.
Asked on why council was taking ages to deal with holding bays in a bid to decongest, Manyenyeni said: “We are the only council with a number of priorities, but very limited resources. All we are doing is patch-work without addressing the real issues and that is why all our cost-cutting mechanisms should be supported.”
Council recently told the Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Local Government that they had a view of holding bays where kombis would park awaiting their turn to pick-up passengers from four of the designated places, Market Square, Coppacabana, Fourth Street and Charge office ranks.
“We expect unions that are fighting retrenchments to understand. We have to bite the bullet and face reality and if I had my way, I would reduce the staff further to release more resources to service delivery. They should have the bigger goal, we should manage costs and provide services,” he said.
The council has announced plans to retrench over 2 000 workers as part of its cost-cutting measures.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have expressed concern over the rise in road accidents caused by police chasing commuter omnibuses in the country’s city centres.
In a statement, ZLHR said: “It is trite that the police in the performance of their duties must respect and protect human dignity, maintain and protect the human rights of all persons.”
ZLHR called on the Commissioner-General of Police Augustine Chihuri and the Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi to investigate and sanction police officers found to be engaging in the catastrophic and reckless pursuits of commuter omnibus drivers.