EDITORIAL COMMENT: Reduction NOT removal of roadblocks is the outcry


Last month’s announcement by Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo that police roadblocks were to be reduced to at least four per province, was welcomed by most motorists and members of the public. Dr Chombo said then that he had directed the Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner General Dr Augustine Chihuri to remove all unnecessary roadblocks to ensure hassle free travelling. Minister Chombo said Commissioner General Chihuri was therefore seized with the matter.

“You cannot mount a roadblock simply because you want to raise money,” said Dr Chombo. The Minister said he wanted the police to mount only necessary roadblocks to enable members of the public to have a hassle free travel. Minister Chombo’s Deputy Cde Obedingwa Mguni said the police were to introduce a zoning system and each province was to have no more than four roadblocks.

He, however, said the number of roadblocks could be increased in the event of security concerns. Many senior Government officials have in the past complained about the number of roadblocks along the country’s highways which they said were causing a lot of inconveniences to the motoring public including tourists. Last week Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Dr Walter Mzembi said he was frustrated by the continued existence of numerous police roadblocks on the country’s highways.

He said the roadblocks were a blow to the tourism industry. Dr Mzembi said he had been in the news several times pleading for a more judicious, reasonable policing of the travelling public, be it local or international traffic. The Tourism Minister said while he acknowledged that police played an integral role in any country, their operations should be within international standards.

Responding to the numerous complaints from members of the public, motorists, senior Government officials and tourists, Commissioner General Chihuri on Tuesday defended the numerous police roadblocks saying people criticising the roadblocks had sinister motives and evil intentions. Dr Chihuri said police were only carrying out their constitutional mandate. He said it was unfortunate that people wanted to talk about the bad things without acknowledging the good things that the police were doing.

What has to be made clear from the onset is that those complaining about police roadblocks are not against police manning our highways but what they are against are the numerous roadblocks which make travelling on our highways a hassle. It is a fact that tourists have on numerous occasions complained about too many police roadblocks.

When Minister Chombo announced the reduction of roadblocks to at least four per province, he was acknowledging that the roadblocks are too many, a fact which Commissioner General Chihuri seems not to agree with. The motoring public and even the tourists want to be protected by the police and as rightly observed by Commissioner General Chihuri, police have this mandate to protect them.

It is not only in Zimbabwe that traffic police mount roadblocks on highways hence no one is advocating for the complete removal of police roadblocks but just the reduction of the number. The police should continue taming the traffic jungle by mounting necessary roadblocks especially during public holidays when motorists are too excited resulting in them flouting traffic rules and regulations. It has been established that more than 80 percent of the road traffic accidents are as a result of human error which means they are caused by reckless drivers who should be controlled by the police.

It is unfortunate that Commissioner General Chihuri is of the view that the politicians, the motorists and tourists complaining about the number of roadblocks are fighting the police. We therefore want to urge Commissioner General Chihuri to appreciate the negative impact of too many roadblocks to our tourism industry and the inconveniences caused to the general travelling public.

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