How Beijing’s taxi system can help Harare

Experts say about 1,5 million cars drive on Harare’s roads daily, contributing to congestion and accidents.

HARARE is home to about 2,5 million people. In the past few weeks, Harare residents have experienced a commuting nightmare after the Zimbabwe Republic Police launched a blitz aimed at bringing sanity on the roads.

Experts say about 1,5 million cars drive on Harare’s roads daily, contributing to congestion and accidents.

In comparison, in Beijing, the Chinese capital city with about five millions cars, traffic flow is smooth.

Speaking to the Zimbabwe Independent during a recent tour of Beijing, a Chinese official said the use of taxis has been effective in decongesting metropole.

Under the system, parking bays are located outside Beijing’s CBD, and commuters disembark from public transport and look for taxis to proceed into the city centre.

“Having parking bays away from the business centre has been a successful method of ensuring that there are no traffic jams and creates parking space for motorists,” the official said, preferring to remain anonymous.

“Even if the bays are outside the city centre, people don’t wait for more than 10 minutes after requesting for a taxi. The nearest bay sends a taxi so there is always one close by.”

The system can be easily adopted and work well in areas where population figures are high.

Meanwhile, the City of Harare implemented a parking management system in an effort to decongest its central business district (CBD) a few years ago.

Still, securing parking bays remains a challenge.

 Chinese experts said Harare can learn from Beijing, which has a population of more than 21 million but manages congestion through its advanced taxi system.

Passengers use social media applications like WeChat to request transport, helping to decongest the capital.

They also make payments through the social media apps, which help them track the location of requested taxis in real time.

A few years ago, Harare proposed that buildings in the CBD should have basement parking space to reduce congestion.

A WeChat-based system will help improve Harare congestion woes, Chinese experts said.

In an interview, Harare City deputy mayor Kudzai Kazombe said the council was working on implementing different strategies to ensure that the CBD is decongested.

“As a city we have plans to decongest the CBD,” she said.

“We will relocate vendors operating in the city centre and help them find spots to trade from so that they do not block drive ways. Creation of a cyber city and economic zones in every district is another way of decongesting the city.”

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