POLITICALLY-connected “untouchable” individual vehicle owners, corrupt police officers and municipality officials are behind the chaos within the central business district, Harare’s rapid results project has alleged.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Harare City Council embarked on a 100-day rapid results initiative at the beginning of October last year and findings from the trafficable roads feedback report showed most touts were becoming increasingly defiant because of political backing.
The rapid results trafficable roads feedback team leader, Ernest Muchena told an end of project review workshop yesterday that people operating taxis from illegal points were using names of people in “high offices”.
“We have found that in some instances, commuter omnibuses were putting names of notable public officials on the commuter to intimidate the municipality or police from carrying out their duties. Also, we have heard reports of corruption, where some police and municipality officials were allowing these illegal ranks to remain where they are,” he said.
Muchena made reference to two illegal ranks in the city, which he said were close to Harare Central Police Station, but police seemed to have failed to tame them.
“Corruption is one of the things we need to address. We need to investigate these claims to get to the bottom of what is happening and also look into these so-called ‘untouchables’,” he said.
During the plenary session, issues got heated with representatives of commuter omnibus operators accusing city officials of double standards.
“If commuter omnibus drivers are parking along Julius Nyerere Way right in front of the Harare City Council, then what is being done? You are showing us pictures of illegal ranks, but none that are close to city offices. This raises serious questions,” a representative said.
Deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Ray Ndhlukula, in his speech, also weighed in on the dangerous cat-and-mouse games between police and city security officials on one hand and illegal commuter operators on the other.
“The commuter omnibus chaos still persists though we had a team that was put in place to ensure that all illegal ranks are dealt with. It is important to note that being focused on the set goal is a key principle in the rapid results initiative,” he said.
Empowering the City of Harare’s law enforcement agency with arresting powers and following up on allegations of corruption are some of the key solutions going forward after the 100-day review.