THE government yesterday reversed Harare City Council’s “hurried” ban on commuter omnibuses entering the central business district (CBD), citing inadequate consultation with key stakeholders, and following violent protests by the commuting public.
by XOLISANI NCUBE
The ban, which was waived in the afternoon following violent clashes between law enforcement agents, kombi crews and vendors, had incovenienced thousands of commuters, who had to walk long distances into town after being dropped outside the CBD.
Local Government minister, July Moyo, in a statement, blasted the city council for “hurriedly enforcing the ban” without providing viable alternatives for the commuting public, forcing some to walk distances of at least 3km into the city centre.
“My directive has been issued in light of the fact that the council’s decision and action are not in the interests of the inhabitants of the council area and the Harare metropolitan province, to the extent they hinder free travel by tourists and the general public, and injure the general national and public interest,” he said.
Moyo, however, said vendors and unregistered vehicles unlawfully engaged in commuter services such as mushikashika, remained banned from entering the CBD.
But, Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni shot back, accusing Moyo of imposing the ban on council.
“It has created many unintended outcomes and inconveniences to the general public of Harare. In particular the issue of distances from drop-off points and the additional bus shuttle costs to a hard-pressed community,” he said in a statement.
Residents’ groups came out gun-blazing, accusing both council and the government of being insensitive to the citizens’ plight.
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said council’s move was ill-conceived and “clearly reveals the lack of consultation of critical stakeholders before decisions that affect the general public are implemented”.
In cases were commuter omnibus drivers resisted, police roped in soldiers to enforce the ban.