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Chaos as Mbudzi roundabout closes for construction

by Staff reporter
20 Sep 2022 at 06:01hrs | Views
As motorists adjust to the closure of Mbudzi roundabout while the huge and complex Mbudzi Interchange is built over the next 18 months, the diversion of traffic into roads in Hopely and Waterfalls was creating more severe traffic jams made worse by mushikshika and vendors jamming the limited traffic lanes.

Space barons using protection rackets to enforce their extortion are demanding US$5 a day from each vendor for their permit on the diversions.

The four roads leading into the interchange area were closed off on Sunday for a distance of 1,5km in each direction, and motorists having to use the diversion routes, which are marked but are still unfamiliar to many.

There was congestion on the detours especially along Malvern Road in Waterfalls and Stoneridge Road as vehicles used a single lane on each.

But this was made worse as a result of long distance buses picking up passengers at undesignated places after Boka Tobacco Auction Floors. And as usual, mushikashika were also a menace blocking traffic while competing with buses and kombis.

Vendors contributed to the congestion as they rushed to establish new selling points along the Harare-Beitbridge highway and at the intersection of Forbes and Stoneridge Roads.

Some people could be seen moving their wooden structures from the roundabout area to new selling points outside the construction area, while others were still conducting their business as usual.

The relocation of vendors outside the construction area has also resulted in the resurfacing of space barons who were selling vending spaces to vendors charging US$5 per day.

Vendors have lamented the emergence of space barons as much as they have welcomed the construction of the multi-million-dollar project.

Ms Roseline Matengarufu, a vendor from Hopely, said the city council must find an alternative place for vendors.

"We welcome the new development but our challenge is that we are being forced to pay money to space barons in order to secure a new vending space. We would be happy if the Government sets a new place for us to conduct our business because we survive through vending and currently we have no choice except to pay the money," she said.

Another vendor, Ms Angeline Masakadza echoed the same sentiments and pleaded with the authorities to remove space barons.

"We have no problem with moving out of the roundabout but our problem comes when someone comes and claims that he owns the place where we are establishing our new stalls and starts demanding money for rent.

"We are pro-development and we would want the interchange to be constructed. That is why we moved out but these space barons are giving us a headache," she said.

Portions of Harare-Masvingo road, Chitungwiza Road and High Glen Road at and near Mbudzi traffic circle were closed on Sunday to pave way for the construction of the interchange.

Motorists have since been advised to use alternative roads that include Malvern Road, Forbes Road, Hopley Road and Stoneridge Road.

They have pleaded with the Government to open more detours to reduce congestion during peak hours.

"The number of cars which are using this detour are many, especially during peak hours and this has resulted in accidents. We have people from Chitungiwza who would be crossing to Glen Norah and Waterfalls, others from Hopley, Southview and Southlea Park who will be going to the city centre, and those who will be leaving the city centre using one detour.

"Buses and lorries which will be using the Harare-Beitbridge highway are also using the same detour so you can just imagine the kind of congestion we are talking about. I think the best idea is to have more diversionary roads to curb this chaos," said Mr Samson Gozho, a motorist.

Ms Tutsirai Mandizha said there was a need for more roads to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and avoid accidents.

"The detour is not enough to handle traffic and other roads should be opened if we are to avoid chaos along the roads. Vendors and mushikashika operators should be moved away from the roads as they are selling too close to the roads such that if a vehicle loses control they will hit a vendor.

"We welcome the construction of the interchange as it will help ease traffic flow at the roundabout but for now we need a quick solution to reduce congestion and avoid accidents," she said.

Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Michael Madiro last week said as Government they appreciate the inconvenience the temporary closure of the roundabout will cause but it was part of the small sacrifices, which they have to make as they pull together towards Vision 2030.

"It is one of those instances where the result justifies the means to that end. I wish to appeal to fellow Zimbabweans that for this period that construction work is in progress at this roundabout, let us all use alternative routes, or detours as may be applicable.

"I can assure that, typical of the work ethic of the Second Republic, we will work as fast as we technically can to ensure that we deliver world class infrastructure for the motoring public."

Source - The Herald
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