HARARE City Council has roped in the Joint Operations Command (JOC) to help restore order in the capital city in the face of unending kombi wars, illegal vending and increasing crime, it has been learnt.
JOC comprises the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services and the Central Intelligence Organisation.
Town clerk Tendai Mahachi and JOC officials yesterday held their first meeting at Town House which was chaired by Police Officer Commanding Harare Province, Senior Assistant Commissioner Clemence Munoriarwa.
JOC officials said order should be maintained in Harare and urged all commuter omnibus operators to fully comply with the laws to avoid falling into problems.
Munoriarwa said a united front by all stakeholders would bring sanity and stop the running battles in the city between kombi operators and authorities.
“History has it that there have been running battles between ZRP, kombi drivers and municipal police, and that has been going on for some time, but what have we achieved? Nothing. I think we should run away from the running battles and put our ideas together and handle situations in our city,” he said.
“We felt we should come together to handle the situation. We are here to decongest not only from traffic, but people with no meaningful business in the city. Our intention is not to take anyone out of business, we are aware of the economic situation and we want to accommodate anyone making business under a prescribed framework.”
Munoriarwa said there should be communication between associations and council for business to be conducted in a proper manner.
He said there was a lot of indiscipline in the city from business, political parties and society, but vowed to address such problems.
He said JOC would stamp out corruption within its rank and file and those who would continue to work outside the set parameters would face the full wrath of the law.
Munoriarwa was flanked by other JOC members who also committed themselves to fighting crime and congestion in the city.
Mahachi gave kombi operators 30 days to register with respective associations.
“If one is not registered, they cannot do business in Harare. The traditional requirements to register a kombi remain the same,” he said.
Mahachi said registered vendors would get strictly one stall in the city and those found outside demarcated vending areas would be fined.
“There shall be no vending at traffic intersections, road islands and street pavements and in the middle of the road. Mobile telecommunication operators are encouraged to sell paperless airtime. Smuggled goods will not be allowed at any of the vending sites,” Mahachi said.
“Law enforcement agents will confiscate any contraband items and owners would be asked to account for the importation of the goods.”
However, kombi operators and touts have vowed to resist the action by law enforcement agents, saying it was a ploy to keep them out of work and expose them to extreme poverty.
The touts have devised a way of evading police by standing on street corners and communicating via mobile phones of a safe place to pick up passengers in what observers said was a method of defiance by the touts. Vendors are reportedly mobilising to resist the move to take them to stalls saying they would want to remain at street corners where they record brisk business.
Vendors and kombi operators’ representatives attended the meeting.