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Parliament savages police roadblocks

by Staff reporter
13 Apr 2017 at 07:05hrs | Views
Parliament has called on police to curb the many unwanted roadblocks that they are mounting, saying they are terrorising both locals and international tourists.

The call comes as police are also under intense pressure to discontinue throwing spikes at moving vehicles at roadblocks.

At the same time, a new directive by Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo to have one roadblock within a 10-kilometre radius, has seen police in effect increasing the number of roadblocks around the country.

"These roadblocks are terrorising our tourists and the unsuspecting innocent citizenry. Computerised operation by police and integration of all transport management systems to include VTS (vehicle theft squad) is what is going to cut the issue of a multitude of roadblocks, together with limiting them to within 10km of each other," chairperson of the portfolio committee on Parliament, Dexter Nduna, told the Daily News in an interview yesterday.

"The solution is in fact effective policing, which can only occur when the police's e-traffic system is talking to all the other transport management systems.

"That will mean the police will get connected to the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR), Vehicle Inspection Department (VID), the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara), Road Motor Transport (RMT), Zimra and local authorities for effective policing of all automobiles in Zimbabwe," he said.

"This is what we need to eradicate the multiplicity in the inspection of vehicles. This can also increase the monitoring ability by the parent ministry, Home Affairs, from their already established e-traffic centre at Chikurubi, which the (transport portfolio) committee has already visited and believes is the solution for the plethora of roadblocks dotted around the country," Nduna added.

Chombo recently said police had been instructed to decongest roadblocks through a directive which allowed one roadblock within a 10-km radius.

But players in the tourism sector and motorists have slammed the new directive, which they said did not address their concerns and instead, would fuel corruption.

"As the hospitality industry we still feel the initial solution cannot resolve the difficulties faced by tourists on the road taking into consideration that a journey to Bulawayo of 440km you will have 44 roadblocks.

"ZRP should also take instructions from the minister so that we become hospitable on our roads. The police should also be taught customer care so that they don't harass people on the roads," Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (Haz) president, George Manyumwa, said last week.

A recent survey conducted by Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) revealed that nearly 10 000 tourists rated police services as "very poor" with half of them vowing never to visit the country again after enduring endless harassment at many roadblocks.

Miffed motorists have launched a campaign against the police ahead of filing a Class action at the Constitutional Court.

"Whilst police are entitled to roadblocks to maintain law and order in terms of section 68 of the Constitution their actions have to be reasonable, proportionate and fair," former Cabinet minister and Road Users Association (RUA) lawyer, David Coltart told the Daily News.

"Setting up a roadblock in every 10-km radius is not reasonable or proportional to maintaining law and order. In fact, the numerous roadblocks are a direct violation of section 66 which says every Zimbabwean and anyone living in Zimbabwe has a right to move freely in Zimbabwe."

RUA is intensifying its fight against police to the extent that it has asked people to submit affidavits sharing their experiences at roadblocks.

The public outcry comes as stone-broke government recently increased traffic spot fines by nearly 100 percent, in a controversial move it claims will reduce road accidents.

Apart from increasing traffic fines, government also recently slapped suffering small businesses — including hair salons, driving schools and commuter omnibuses — with taxes as it bid to shore up the State's heavily depleted coffers.

The new traffic fines were announced just weeks after police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri had called for steep increases in the spot fines, which he said would curb Zimbabwe's worsening road carnage and reckless driving.

The High Court last month gave relief to thousands of motorists who complain about the random and unrelenting harassment at roadblocks by police, when it ruled that there was no law that allowed police to confiscate licences and impound vehicles of drivers who refused to pay spot fines.

This was after police had admitted that they had no right to force drivers to pay spot fines.

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Source - Daily News