HARARE City Council’s director of works, Engineer Philip Pfukwa, yesterday admitted in Parliament that the local authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) had failed to curb the influx of illegal and unlicensed vehicles in the city centre.
Pfukwa also told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government that the problem was being exacerbated by rampant corruption among municipal and ZRP officers tasked to control traffic and decongest the central business district.
“I have seen from my office, which is strategically positioned, situations where a kombi is left to pass after taking a ZRP or municipal police officer to a corner. We must stop that,” Pfukwa said.
“More than 500 of those vehicles are under lock and key. They are very cheap to buy, hence they are now many of them. I want to declare that we condemn the illegal activities, but we are not up to the situation. We are overwhelmed as council. We don’t have the capacity,” he said.
Pfukwa added: “Police are also blinkered. For example, if a police officer who deals with crime sees a traffic offence being committed, he doesn’t act. Our officers are blinkered.”
Pfukwa said concerns had been raised on the ownership of some of the public vehicles amid suspicion that some of them were owned by council and ZRP top officers.
MPs raised concern on why council was not being hard on the illegal taxis, most of them plying the Fourth Street-Copacabana and Market Square routes while others were plying the Avondale-City route.
Warren Park MP Elias Mudzuri questioned why Pfukwa and his team where quiet yet they knew of the rot in the streets of Harare where corruption was the order of the day.
“What are you doing about it? As council, you can’t allow chaos to prevail because you want to study the situation. It’s now uncontrollable. Why are you allowing people to act first? It’s like allowing people to build houses then you demolish later.
“You are now acting as if you are punishing those who are properly registered and spend time at the holding bay while those not registered pay you to do as they please in the city centre,” Mudzuri said.
Harare has of late employed several measures to decongest the city including roping in the Joint Operation Command to help restore sanity in the capital.