Harare city tames load shedding induced traffic jams

Features Zimbabwe

Ralston Muchoko and Patience Nhamburo

WITH Zimbabwe facing long hours of load shedding, traffic control lights in
various parts of the capital, Harare have not been spared, posing danger to
motorists and members of the public at busy street intersections.

When traffic lights are not working, intersections should be treated as stop
areas, but motorists and pedestrians are not stopping and this is causing congestion. The situation has been chaotic, with traffic congestion at street intersections at peak hours during load shedding, and motorists failing to give way to each other.

Due to the congestion and accidents, city authorities have hired marshals to
help control traffic.

“We have recently recruited more council officers and they are under training and will be deployed onto the streets to control traffic at intersections. This was after a lot of accidents had been recorded on our roads due to lack of traffic control lights,” Councilor Jacob Mafume, the Chairman of Harare’s Human Resources and General Purposes Committee, told a council meeting on Wednesday.

Councilor Mafume added: “As council we are also introducing solar traffic lights, because Zimbabwe is experiencing power cuts, but one thing we always have is the sun. We need to take advantage of the resources that we have and develop our country.”

As traffic jams give headaches to city fathers, two young men in the capital are correcting that. They spend their days directing traffic at the intersection of Bishop Gaul and Josiah Tongogara streets, one of the city’s busiest crossing points. They make sure traffic is flowing during load shedding.

Tinashe, aged 18 and Allan, 21 live on the streets of Harare and they used to beg for alms on street lanes, but today they are heroes to motorists. Instead of begging they now get food and money from motorists after working.

“What motivated us to control traffic here are the road accidents which
occurred due to load shedding. We were at great risk of being involved in
accidents because we used to beg on the street,” Allan said.

“Our wish is that the city gives us jobs as traffic controllers so that we can earn a better salary from controlling traffic. We are willing to go for training to perfect our traffic control skills,” said Tinashe.

They put on yellow reflectors and direct motorists to stop or to proceed. The
two have brought sanity to this section of the road where load shedding was causing transport gridlocks.

A motorist who spoke to ZTN commended the two. “They are doing a brilliant job in the absence of the police who are supposed to be controlling traffic here,” the motorist who refused to be identified, said.

The duo said there have been no recorded traffic accidents at the intersection since June when they started working there.

Meanwhile the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe is distributing reflective vests to young boys who are controlling traffic at street intersections in Harare.