26 000 arrests in police crackdown on motorists
Peter Matika, [email protected]
THE number of traffic offenders who have been arrested under the ongoing operation code-named “Tame the Traffic Jungle” has risen to over 26 000 as police intensify the crackdown, which is aimed at restoring order on the country’s roads.
The operation is in response to lawlessness on the country’s roads, particularly in cities and towns where most transport operators are flouting traffic rules and regulations.
Police arrested 26 443 people and impounded 708 vehicles that were operating without route permits including 10 204 pirate taxis popularly known as mushikashika.
The operation, which was launched last Tuesday, involves a close partnership between police, local authorities, and several other stakeholders which include the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and the Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID).
In Bulawayo, police have mounted roadblocks along major roads leading to the city centre. They are also targeting illegal ranks and undesignated pick-up and drop-off points dotted around the city.
A Chronicle news crew yesterday moved around the city centre and selected suburbs and observed that police had mounted roadblocks and raiding pirate taxis in the city centre.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the operation will continue until sanity is restored on the country’s roads.
“The ZRP reports that a total of 26 443 arrests have been effected during the ongoing operation, ‘Tame the Traffic Jungle’. We impounded 708 vehicles, which operated without route permits including 10 204 illegal pirate taxis (mushikashika),” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi said police are concerned with a growing trend of recklessness by motorists who are violating traffic regulations.
“Licensed public service vehicles are contributing to the chaos and congestion by loading and unloading passengers at undesignated points. They are openly endangering the lives of the public through reckless conduct at controlled road intersections and traffic lights,” he said.
“We are concerned with motorists who are so reckless to the extent of disregarding traffic regulations. You will find that some motorists daringly ignore traffic signs and regulations, and for instance, you may find a motorist driving along a one-way lane opposing traffic, putting other road users at risk.”
Asst Comm Nyathi said the major culprits are kombi and pirate taxi drivers.
“In some instances, kombis, in particular, do not want to follow prescribed routes and detours causing traffic jams. They are also inconveniencing passengers who will be en route to various destinations,” he said.
“Passengers should report such incidents to the police so that we swiftly take action against these hooligans.”
Asst Comm Nyathi noted that there is a growing trend of hit-and-run accidents that have become prevalent across the country.
“We will descend on these offenders and they must be warned that police will not be lenient. A lot of lives have been lost due to this reckless behaviour. To that effect, 296 motorists have been arrested for reckless driving, while 1 761 people have been arrested for touting,” he said.
“We impounded 695 vehicles countrywide for moving on the roads with no registration plates. There is no excuse for motorists not to register vehicles within two weeks after importation as stipulated under the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Act Chapter 13:13.”
Asst Com Nyathi said they will also take action on heavy vehicles that find their way into residential suburbs and the city centre in disregard of outlying designated routes.
He said the operation will account for un-roadworthy vehicles and public service vehicles, which do not have legal documents such as insurance, route authority, and fitness certificates.
“Vehicle owners who leave broken down vehicles on the road, while blocking traffic with some using tree branches and stones as warning signs instead of proper reflective triangles will not be spared,” said Asst Com Nyathi.
“We will also take action against illegal fittings on motor vehicles for example bar lights used in violation of Statutory Instrument 129 of 2015 Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use) Regulations.”
Asst Com Nyathi said the police will also impound heavy farming vehicles that are driven in disregard of relevant statutes. He said motorists who try to bribe the police risk being prosecuted.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police urges the public to cooperate with police officers and relevant stakeholders in order to bring sanity to the country’s roads and central business districts. The public is free to report errant drivers on National Complaints Desk number (0242) 703631 or WhatsApp number 0712 800 197,” said the national police spokesperson.