Home » Governance » For Progress’ Sake, City Fathers Should Be Proactive

It rained very heavily earlier this week. What a welcome relief this was considering that we had gone through a dry spell where some crops were already stressed.

The high temperatures had also wreaked havoc with people’s bodies, resulting in many suffering from heat related conditions.

Tummy bugs had become common with children being the worst affected. The heat was excessive and the rains were just a welcome relief.

However, the rains did not come without some headaches as Monday night proved a nightmare for police officers in the Traffic Section at Harare Central Police Station as the volumes of motorists coming in to report accidents were high.

Many cars rammed leaving the police overwhelmed with incidents to attend to.

It was the same situation come Tuesday morning as those who had been involved in minor accidents the night before, myself included, also trooped to the police to report.

The traffic jams that characterised most of the city roads that evening were a total disaster. Many motorists speak of having been stuck in traffic for as long as three to four hours on end. After being stuck in the traffic for so long, some bad driving habits began to emerge.

Traffic lights were no longer being followed for in most cases when they turned green there was nowhere to go.

Basic road rules were being flouted while there was no courtesy given to other motorists or pedestrians.

Everyone just wanted to go.

There were many hit and run incidents where some motorists would simply bump or scratch others and drive off. With the rains who dared to get out and chase after a rogue driver?

But then, some truly alarming things happened that night.

Cars started driving on roads meant for traffic going the other way. Along Robert Mugabe, traffic getting into town got stuck after traffic going to Msasa and driving along Chiremba straddled both lanes even the one meant for traffic going into town.

It was simply through grace that no fatalities were recorded as cars could have hit each other head-on. Some motorists gave up and simply parked their cars on the roadside and slept till after the madness subsided.

Others parked their cars and walked home only to return to pick up their vehicles later. It was crazy. What Monday night served to show is that Harare’s roads are no longer adequate for Harare’s traffic.

It showed us that when it rains, there is an added headache that needs to be dealt with. It also became evident that police presence in controlling traffic is necessary during such scenarios. A police officer who was on his way home saved the day at the corner of Robert Mugabe and Cameron Streets when he took time to direct traffic which had blocked all points, leading to a major traffic jam where everyone wanted to go somewhere, but in the end no one was going anywhere.

Within five minutes of his directing traffic, some movement started to happen. Some airtime recharge card vendors often find themselves directing traffic the numerous times that traffic lights stop working too.

This actually helps.

However, this is not their job and it is not safe for them. There is real need to plan for how to handle such instances when traffic lights are not working or it is raining because Harare becomes a traffic jungle in such times.

Our roads are just not wide enough and the pot holes do not help matters. While the police do their part, Harare City also needs to look into this issue because even though Monday is gone, it will certainly be raining again on other days and there must be a plan in place of how to avoid a disaster in this rainy season.

A situation where accidents, traffic jams and lawlessness become the order of the day as was the case on Monday should be avoided at all costs. But this can only happen if there is forward planning.

However, traffic is not the only problem that we have to contend with when the rains fall.

Electrical faults also increase. Some areas lost power during the Monday rains and spent three to four days without power. Some roads became gaping holes as the shoddy patchwork done on them gave way under the heavy downpour.

Some homes and offices also literally became gushing water taps. Some Mbare houses were clogged as a result of the rains that fell. Harare’s drainage system was exposed for the sham it is after roads and homes became flooded.

In Mbare pampers and human excreta found themselves floating after the rains pounded the ground and brought everything under the surface onto the fore.

If these issues are not addressed, what kind of city shall the capital become? If these issues are not addressed, what kind of lives shall people live?

Life is certainly stressful enough these days without having to live in wet homes and drive through gaping holes that only serve to damage vehicles, which means more money which is not available, being required for service.

Things are hard enough without having to live without electricity.

While load shedding has become part of life for Zimbabweans, living without electricity for prolonged periods of time in the city does not work.

We have the holidays coming up. With the onset of the rains, it becomes even worse for those who rely on open fires to cook and those who have to stay outside until it is late just to avoid the dark indoors.

These problems are not a once off. They will be with us for a long time to come.

It is how we decide to plan for them that makes a difference. Let the relevant authorities come to the table and fix these issues. It is a fact that it rains at some point during the year. It is a fact that the rains will bring lightning with them.

The public should be educated on how to avoid being struck by lightning and how to protect their homes from lightning strikes.

The Meteorological Department has done well and warned that there will be heavy rains which can uproot trees and homes.

Let us prepare for this. Last time people lost their homes after flooding occurred.

Are our systems and services for such disasters ready to deal with such eventualities?

There is no real reason to be caught napping in this? The difference is in forward planning. Let us be safe!

btonhodzayi@gmail.com

Source : The Herald

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