We have just started a week that will see much travelling and brisker business across the country.
Independence Day on Thursday marks the beginning of the long weekend when we will observe the Easter Holiday to run until Monday next week. For many, it will be five days of rest, celebration and worship. However, before that and after there will be a lot of travelling also.
The country celebrates 39 years of Independence on Thursday. This, needless to say, is a very important day for us as we reflect on the tortuous and difficult road; the blood and sweat that flowed as tens of thousands of patriots took up arms against British colonialism to the day when independence and freedom came on April 18, 1980.
Thousands died or were injured in that struggle. We also reflect on the difficult road that we have traversed from April 18, 1980, as a free and independent people. There have been stumbling blocks on that journey.
Some were overcome, most of them we must say, while a number of challenges remain. Thursday is therefore yet another time to celebrate and reflect.
The following day is Good Friday, a very important moment for the Christian world. That is the day when the greater part of the population in our country – an estimated 85 percent – commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and His death at Calvary.
Sunday is when we observe Jesus’ resurrection while Monday is designated Easter Monday in our country, thus is a holiday too. Thousands of people, especially the apostolics, travel on Thursday to various places to observe the holiday in prayer, returning on Monday.
We have to add also that Tuesday next week marks the first day of the five-day Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, one of the two biggest exhibitions we have and Bulawayo’s biggest.
Therefore, Thursday this week to Monday next week is a hallowed five days for people of this country. The next five days after the Easter Holiday will be big in terms of business as the country showcases the various products and services it has to offer as well as the available trade and investment opportunities.
Our people are urged to be most careful when they travel to their rural homes or to places of worship this week as periods like this traditionally see much excitement that sometimes end in road accidents. They need to prepare for their journeys well, make sure that their vehicles are in good running order and they drive at safe speeds.
The same message goes to commercial transporters too as many of them have been blamed for allowing ramshackles ply routes, resulting in crashes, deaths and injuries to their passengers and other road users.
Police are urged to intensify their policing of roads. Only roadworthy vehicles must be driven on our roads while drivers must be licensed to drive. Those who will drive must be in the right frame of mind to do so and must be sober.
Any vehicles found to be unroadworthy must be impounded as soon as they are identified while those who drink and drive, or speed must be arrested on the spot.
We have a word to those who will choose to travel from towns and cities to their rural homes or to church gatherings. They are urged to ensure that their houses are properly secured to prevent intrusion.
They can leave trusted relatives at the homes. If they do not have anyone they trust among their relatives, they can engage security companies to guard their homes while they are away.
It was a concern among many that the holiday could be marred by fuel shortage. The fears are realistic because of the erratic fuel supplies that we have been experiencing over the past few months. The Government has, however, assured that adequate fuel will be available.
Power and Energy Development Permanent Secretary Dr Gloria Magombo said Government is working to ensure fuel is available over the Independence and Easter holidays.
“Government, working with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, has already put in place measures to ensure adequate fuel supplies so as not to dampen the spirit of the holidays,” she said responding to concerns raised by the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe that the fuel shortages being experienced could affect holiday travelling and hotel occupancy rate.
“Government has put in place foreign currency structures, mainly in the form of Letters of Credit, for oil companies to procure fuel. For some oil companies, such structures are already running, while for the rest of the companies the structures will kick-start before the holidays set in. On the basis of these structures, Government expects the fuel market to be reasonably supplied during the Independence and Easter holidays. No inconvenience on the part of travellers is envisaged. The good thing is that adequate fuel is already in the country, held in bond, (and) just waiting for payment in foreign currency to be made before it is released onto the market. Upon payment for it, local oil companies can pick up the fuel either from Harare (Msasa and Mabvuku depots) or Mutare (Feruka Depot), thus ensuring a minimal turnaround time.”
We look forward to a safe and happy holiday for all of us.