Human, traffic congestion in Harare’s CBD messy affair

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I mean seriously speaking; something should be done about the traffic and human congestion in Harare’s central business district (CBD).

Ever since my company moved offices to the industrial site in Graniteside, I had not gone into the CBD until about two days ago.

It was during peak hours and I drove down Seke Road, turned into Kenneth Kaunda Avenue as I was picking up someone at the corner of Fourth Street and Speke.

That is a decision I lived to regret.

It was a long and arduous drive that took nearly two hours and when I finally arrived to give my friend a ride, I drove up Fourth Street and turned left into Jason Moyo until I got to Julius Nyerere Way.

That is where more nightmares awaited me.

Human traffic has literally taken over our roads and motorists are finding it difficult to manoeuvre around the CBD.
Jay walking is the order of the day as pedestrians ignore designated crossing points, preferring to compete with cars driving down the roads.

Some of the pedestrians will bang on your bonnet when you decide to drive on insisting they be given right of way.

Harare’s CBD has become total chaos and something has to be done as a matter of urgency to tame this jungle.

On Thursday afternoon, I parked my little car somewhere along Mbuya Nehanda as I wanted to walk to Copacabana Flea Market.

The pavements around those areas are impassable as vendors have literally spread their wares leaving pedestrians to compete with motorists on the tarmac.

It is so annoying because if you decide to walk on the little space on the pavements, which does not allow free flow of human traffic, and accidentally kick a pile of tomatoes, a near fist fight or verbal abuse ensues.

Yes vendors have been given freedom of the City of Harare and I am reliably informed that people from other cities are now descending these streets to eke a living.

The picture I have constantly had of this city is 1980 when the pavements were spotlessly clean with absolutely no litter on the roads.

You could walk with your head high wearing the high-heeled stilettos without fear of being trapped in a crevice or open drain on the streets.

Today, you have to constantly look down to avoid kicking the foodstuff being sold on the pavements and also be on guard for motorists and human traffic that seem to have gone haywire on these roads.

It is scary to imagine how young children walking to and from school manage to get around these busy pavements and roads.
One airtime vendor said that no week passes without seeing a child or adult that has been hit by motorists in the CBD. If such accidents involve a kombi driver, he flees from the scene and sometimes even after recording the number plate, the registration number plates do not exist at Central Vehicle Registry (CVR).

With the number of road blocks that we see on these roads, we wonder why police and other stakeholders are failing to contain these errant kombi drivers.

Congestion in Harare has been further worsened by non-working traffic lights which create so many hours of delay especially for those going to work and school.

One resident missed his flight as he was stuck along Seke Road, just before the flyover at the intersection with Kenneth Kaunda Avenue. Sometimes the police that decide to physically control traffic are themselves not competent and instead create further delays.

Traffic policemen of the 80’s wore proper traffic attire and were confident in giving directions to motorists.

The cops we see on the streets controlling traffic confuse motorists because their hand signals are chaotic.

I dread to imagine how driving standards in Harare will ever improve, given the chaos in the city.

Kombis will shout you off the road . . . because they are the king of the road. And if you drive a small car like mine, you are abused left, right and centre.

I cannot imagine how our teenagers will learn how to drive given the disorder on these streets.

There are people I know that now park their cars in the Avenues and walk to the CBD because of reasons I have stated above.

You will find that it is much faster to walk, although there are serious vendor obstacles on the way, than to drive along these roads.

There is one thing I fear in my life and that is to cause an accident where a pedestrian gets hurt or killed.

But with the present scenario, I foresee a number of lives being lost and like I said earlier, a vendor confirmed that human life is being lost because of this confusion.

Zimbabwe as a country was properly planned demarcating farming, mining and other regions. And so were the cities that were planned in such a way that you would know where to find certain products in shops and markets.

Today, the city resembles some popular flea markets that are found in some other African countries.

I recently went to Mbare Musika and noticed that there is actually sanity reigning in that part of the city because most vendors with stalls there have moved onto the streets in the CBD.

Parking space is also very difficult in the city as some motorists have turned their vehicles into mobile shops.

Moving the city to Mount Hampden may just be a solution because I do not see how this problem will be solved, given the political hands that have meddled into these affairs.

Perhaps a disease outbreak like cholera and other communicable diseases will drive authorities to take this matter as a serious health issue.

The pavements are where street people and kids sleep and urinate at night, and become vending places during the day. If that is not a health hazard can someone tell me what it is?