By Itai Muzondo
The ‘cat and mouse’ chase between motorists and traffic police has just gotten worse as Easter holidays approach, and police roadblocks are a common sight through the roads in order to term the traffic jungle that often claims many lives.
Quite worrying however is to encounter four roadblocks in a 40km stretch from Masvingo City centre to Mashava Great Zimbabwe Campus, all in the name of curbing accidents in the approaching Easter holiday.
Justifications presented were from 2014 statistics, which saw a 71 percent increase in road carnage as interpreted by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats).
The increase was interpreted from 9 000 unlicensed drivers which were caught, 15 519 uninsured vehicles which were taken off the road and 1 741 who were charged with negligent driving.
With this kind of statistics on the book, it is plainly logical for police to regulate drivers on the road but does not augur well when a distance of 40 kilometres has four roadblocks which road users are alleging that they are not doing their mandate but simply exacerbating corruption.
Masvingo Commuter Operators Chairperson, Kinlot Moyo said that it is unfair for police take advantage of their busy days they are supposed to be making money to loot bribes from operating which has since become a mechanical drill.
“Police at roadblocks are taking advantage of the holiday to loot from us. It has become a mechanical drill to drivers that you offer them bribes or you risk being charged exorbitant fines,” Moyo said.
“This is the time we should be making money but our setbacks are based upon these unjustified roadblocks. We simply ask traffic police at this note to do their work in a justifiable manor and shun corruption,” said Moyo.
Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesperson for Masvingo Province, Assistant Inspector Nkululeko Nduna however justified the multiple roadblock system though he urged the public to report all acts of corrupt police officers who want to tarnish the image of ZRP.
“What is in place is an operation to curb road related crimes which we are doing this year in conjunction with the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ). I therefore urge the public driving to holiday resorts to make sure that their vehicles are intact and they should also avoid over speeding.
“It is however shameful that we receive reports of corrupt police officers on these roadblocks but we urge the public to help us by reporting all acts of corruption on check points as they bring dismay to ZRP as a whole. I would also like to advise the public at this note to discourage the general populace from boarding non – public vehicles as they will be prone to robberies,” said Nduna.
Drivers however expressed worry over delays they are facing on road checks as some traffic police officers seek bribes.
“It seems the police are understaffed but that is not the case because when they make you wait, they will be indirectly seeking bribes,” said Jonathan Muteme.TSCZ Regional Manager for Masvingo, Daniel Guruva, confirmed the coming of the campaign which will be held nationwide in conjunction with Traffic Bliss.
“I confirm the on-going operation we are doing with the Zimbabwe Republic Police as it has been to our attention that road related crimes which increases the number of accidents is rife towards big holidays like Easter. I do not want to be overprotective over the reports of corrupt police though I urge the nation to unite and shun corruption. Multiple roadblocks should not face resistance because of the acts of greedy people but should help in saving lives on the conjested roads,” said Guruva.