Will new street lights curb crime?

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YEARS of neglect and poor service delivery has turned the capital Harare into a “dark city” with street lights either vandalised or not serviced.

BY PROBLEM MASAU

Armed robbers have taken advantage of lack of street lighting to mug people with many getting killed and valuable property in the melee associated with darkness.

Police chief spokesperson Charity Charamba in a statement in January last year said police recorded 316 cases of armed robbery between January and May 2014, as compared to 230 cases received during the same period in 2013.

These statistics indicate that robbery cases increased by 37% in the country as a whole.

Charamba said motorists and pedestrians walking along footpaths in the urban centres had become targets.

Deputy Commissioner-General (Crime) Josephine Shambare cited absence of street lights as one of the major causes of crime in Harare.

“As police we register deep concern over the increase in general crime in the province during the year under review. It is sad to note that the province recorded a 7% increase in crime as 98 915 cases were received in 2013 as compared to 92 314 cases received in 2012,” she said addressing guests at an end-of-year party.

The public has welcomed the move by Harare City Council to introduce solar street lighting and said it would go a long way in curbing crime in the city.

Phinias Piano, a security guard who cycles to work in the central business district from Hatfield, Harare, said he now felt secure to go to work during the night because of the street lights.

“It was very difficult for me to go to work during the night since I use a bicycle,” he said.

“I was constantly on the lookout because there have been cases of people being mugged along Airport Road. I have a friend who fell victim to robbers because there was no lighting. The area is now a bit safe to travel since I am aware of my surroundings.”

The Joshua Nkomo Road which goes to Harare International Airport is one of the first roads to have solar streets lights.

Another Harare resident, Martha Ncube, said the street lights initiative was long overdue.

“I am glad that Harare City Council finally saw the light. I personally think the exercise was long overdue,” she said.

However, Lincoln Mukonoweshuro said the city fathers should repair tower lights in high-density areas and introduce the same concept in new residential areas.

“Many people will continue to lose life unnecessarily if the relevant authorities don’t repair the tower lights in most of the high-density suburbs. The situation is even worse in new residential areas where the population is still low,” he said.

“People are constantly being robbed in areas such as Bluffhill and Westlea where there are no tower lights and I think they should do something about it.”

Harare City Council recently announced a $15 million solar street lighting partnership which will see 4 000 solar lights being installed in the city.

Harare City Council procurement committee chairperson Herbert Gomba said the installation being done in partnership with a Zambian advertising firm is expected to be completed in 2016.

Under the 15-year deal, the Zambian company will install 4 000 solar-powered streetlights, and, in return, retain 85% of advertising rights on all the lighting poles.

Harare City spokesperson Michael Chideme said council would save about $200 000 per month which they have been paying to
Zesa.

“Following the installation of the solar streetlights, the Harare City Council is expected to save nearly $200 000 every month,” he explained

“This is the money we have been paying to the power utility for electricity.”

Zesa will be able to channel the electricity to other economic sectors.

Zimbabwe is experiencing a power deficit, with a daily electricity demand of 2 200 megawatts (MW against an installed capacity of 1 100MW and the government has encouraged independent private producers to step in to cover the shortfall.

1 COMMENT

  1. i hav bin staying in Hafield for the past 29 yrs…these solar airport road lights ur taking about wher do they light up??? 1st of all yes they make the roadlook lamourous but i have never seen them on…
    sometimes the old street lights r switched on from Gorge Road SPCA traffic circle past 1 comando to braeside post office along airpot..

    ma solar amo taura start from Gorge road going to queensway shops… from shops ther is nuthin till masotcha road..then ey start ther …

    i drive that road @ night evry single day.. don lie to us on a half finished job… already planning on solar lights for the whole city 1st finish airport road yamakatanga and put solar thru out that road. we dont want darkness tho we r used to it..

    crime rate is up because of no jobs madaam officer.. not because of lights, get yo facts straight

    silly zanu pf

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