Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

Traffic nightmare as kombi crews create 6th Avenue rank

by Staff reporter
16 Sep 2022 at 06:05hrs | Views
DRIVING on Bulawayo's streets has become nightmarish as rowdy kombi crews violate road rules causing congestion.

Roads such as 6th Avenue Extension and Herbert Chitepo streets from 5th Avenue to 11th Avenue have become un-traffickable and no-go areas for ordinary motorists as kombi crews have turned them into mini ranks.

While 6th Avenue is the perfect exit road for motorists using the City-Luveve Road, some have abandoned the route opting for longer routes such as driving using the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road and turning just before Mpilo Central Hospital to reconnect into Luveve Road in Mzilikazi near Emachipsini.

Those who decide to use the 6th Avenue exit route experience a torrid time and risk being involved in accidents.

Experts say traffic jams threaten economic viability and aggravates pollution and energy consumption.

To underline the problem of traffic congestion in the city, a Chronicle news crew on Monday observed Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube warning the lawless kombi crews to make way as they had blocked traffic along 6th Avenue between Herbert Chitepo Street and Fort Street.

Minister Ncube had to remind the kombi crews to operate within the confines of the law.

The roads have become even more dangerous as the kombi crews are sometimes raided by  police and they take off, driving even in the opposite lane.

The chaos obtaining in the city centre has partially been blamed on the delays in the redevelopment of Basch Street Terminus which has closed for some time now.

Terracotta Trading Private Limited (TTPL) which is responsible for the redevelopment of Egodini has been struggling to implement the project.

Since the project was handed to it for reconstruction in 2016, TTPL has failed to meet deadlines that it sets for completing the project.

In January this year the contractor claimed that Egodini will be opened for vendors and taxis before rescheduling the reopening to August.

A November deadline has since been set for the opening of the project for vendors and taxi rank which in turn is expected to decongest the city centre. Bulawayo City Council has said the construction of the first phase of Egodini Mall will end the congestion chaos in the city.

Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni said in addition to the expected completion of Egodini Mall project in November, the city's new parking management system is expected to come handy in dealing with the congestion problem.

 "We are trying to deal with those vices through the introduction of the city park management system, we are implementing with Tendy Three Investment as our partner. We have not yet expanded to those areas but once we have done so we hope to address it," he said.

Clr Mguni said delays in the construction of Egodini project has worsened the situation.

He said council expects that the contractor would have completed the project by the end of November.

 "I hope you have seen the works being done at Egodini for the taxi rank and bus terminus as well as the vending stalls. We hope the project will bring control to these challenges. We hope Egodini will be reopened for taxi rank and vending stalls in November," he said.

A Chronicle news crew visited the construction site this week and observed that vending stalls are being constructed, while steel pillars for the rank have been mounted.

Besides that, nothing much has been done and there appears no guarantee that the project will be completed by November.

There are indications that TTPL is not constructing a rank but is building loading and dropping off bays.

"What this means is that the council has to come up with a rank where commuter omnibuses will rank and go on site to pick up and drop passengers. That is the model that Harare City Council adopted but has not worked. The Harare waiting rank had become an white elephant, we wait to see how council will deal with the situation on the ground," said an official who declined to be named.

A motorist Mr Zibusiso Nkomo said he now opts to using Old Khami Road as opposed to Luveve Road as he drives home because of the traffic gridlock.

 "If you really care about your car you can't drive along 6th Avenue. In the past the congestion was there only during peak hours but now it's throughout the day. I have resorted to driving along Old Khami Road and connecting to Luveve via Mabutweni, it takes longer but is the safest. We hope authorities can find permanent solutions to the congestion problem in the city centre," said Mr Nkomo. Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said law enforcement agents continue to conduct random raids on the illegal kombi operators.

He said roads such as 6th Avenue, Herbert Chitepo Street, Fort Street have become some of the hotspots for the illegal operations.

"As police we will continue to conduct sporadic raids on these illegal operators as it is part of our duty to make sure there is order in the city. However, we are concerned that some members of the public seem to encourage these mshikashika operators as they jeer the police as they execute their duties as if to encourage them to defy law enforcement agents," said Insp Ncube

He said police are also going to arrest motorists who stop vehicles in the middle of the road obstructing traffic.

Government is in the process of crafting a new law to guide the operations of private commuter omnibuses.

Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo recently said under the new law, all private commuter operators will have to operate under an association.

This is meant to instill discipline.

Source - The Chronicle