Home » Judicial » Unmetered Taxis Now a Menace in CBD

ZIMBABWE’S mad traffic jungle consists of all sorts of players from the good, the bad to the terribly ugly.

The good guys, in my opinion, would include – probably the most unlikely fellows – military drivers.Maybe I should not be that astonished at all, as in any case, the very best driver I believe I have ever seen, as I passionately relayed in the Traffic Friday submission of April 24, is a joyous retired army bus driver, Warrant Officer (Class 2) Samuel Mahachi.

In a forthcoming edition of Traffic Friday, after some diligent research, I would like to reveal the fine detail of how the Zimbabwe National Army tamed the beast evolving from the pain and shame of enduring arguably the most dangerous and most disliked drivers, in the infamous Puma era of the 1980s to today.

In all probability, the army has many more vehicles than they had in the 80s, but their now clear-headed drivers have no doubt become an admirable, disciplined lot.

Truly, no one seems, for any bad reason, to notice army vehicles on the road anymore. Havachaita chigandanga muroad! They were now indeed, the good boys!

In that civilised group of the good road guys, I would add all drivers of established private schools.

Because of the assumed sophistication of their employers’ (read parents) no-nonsense systems, I do not think you will ever witness say, a Peterhouse Group of Schools or Chisipite Girls School bus engaging in unbridled and dangerous, kombi-like excitement.

In any case, the well-trained and formally dressed driver has no appetite to contest with anyone. The matter is so simple: if ever reported to the exacting school authorities for intolerable driving misdemeanours, a misbehaving private school bus driver would be as good as finished!

Sadly, in that group of elite private schools, the odd one out is an Eaglesvale School bus, No.16.

I have seen that bus interchanging lanes a little too frequently for comfort, on Borrowdale Road.

The truth is that the ‘Vale school bus has imitated, in my opinion, the many crazed kombis you see hurtling at breakneck speed on DomboshavaBorrowdale roads.

As for other leading independent schools whose buses I frequently see and scrutinise on the roads: your Hellenic, Saints’, St John’s (Borrowdale), Falcon, Lomagundi, etc my fair opinion, shaped by years of intense, uncompromising observation, is you may never hear of accidents involving these good guys as they drive to arrive alive at all times.

These choice schools seem quite wary of Zimbabwe’s potentially lethal road conditions so they initiate any-and-all rigorous safety measures, chief of which seems doggedly keeping each school bus within the prescribed speed limits.

I cannot say much about other private, mission-run schools like Howard High, Marist Brothers, St Ignatius College, etc as I do not often, see them on the road.

My unbiased personal assessment of the few encounters with them though is that their driving has been unrushed and safe.

Dear reader, the obnoxious, ugly guys would easily include the infamous kombis, of course.

In the national discourse, we have extensively spoken much of them, but somehow disregarded a fast-growing road traffic menace in Zimbabwe, predominantly active in Harare.

The common hazard presents itself in the form of the now many unmetered taxis.

These unmetered taxi operations are guided by a raft of Ministry of Transport regulations.

In addition, in the case of Harare, they have to satisfy a raft of other onerous City requirements to be fully up to date with all licensing needs. These taxis have exclusively presented themselves in the form of the fuel-saving small Toyota cars, the Raum probably being the most popular make, together with the Spacio and lately, the Fun Cargo version.

My thin research indicates there were now hundreds of such licensed, unmetered taxis that somehow were each permitted to freely traverse the length and breadth of Zimbabwe.

It is said many of the drivers have “graduated” from driving kombis, which may explain the carefree driving attitude exhibited by most taxi drivers. Truly, old habits die hard.

Because of limited facilities, there is a constant hustle and bustle for inadequate rank space.

That unceasing fight, in almost all cases, causes much consternation as these taxis end up parking improperly and encroaching onto driving lanes, helping to create even more chaos in the city’s traffic jungle.

Many of the city’s taxis exhibit wild driving habits which cry out for the traffic police’s focused attention.

Drivers routinely skip red lights, a most dangerous act of bravado that largely goes unpunished.

They drive too fast for the road condition most of the times.

They illegally pick up passengers from the street, which their licensing forbids.

Strangely, even overloading seems also quite common with the metered taxis. Because they are small and nifty, they will also routinely, illegally, squeeze into gaps in the traffic, in their relentless quest to get ahead of others and make as much money as they can in a day.

Their infractions are too many to list, suffice to say they are a law unto themselves, a kind of spoilt untamed little brats that habitually act as they please, like their daddy owned the city!

Traffic Friday very much cheers the renewed police focus on the ugly, cowboy kombis, though time and strategy should be set aside to cleverly police the unmetered taxis and get them to fully conform to all licensing regulations, not to mention sticking to approved driving etiquette.

Traffic’s spoilt little brats must be nipped in the bud before they become uncontrollable like the kombis, to unleash more mayhem and spill innocent blood on our roads.

Name and shame …

Shame on you whoever drove a black Toyota – ADG3641 – last Monday afternoon, along Robert Mugabe Road.

If I had my way, I would get you banned for an agonising duration. I shockingly witnessed your outrageous and unacceptably unsafe behaviour, including ejecting missiles from your moving vehicle.

Because Traffic Friday does not cheer traffic offenders, your wrongdoings have been captured on video and relayed to senior traffic police who will happily invite you soon, no doubt! You’re Traffic Friday’s “Rombe resvondo rino”!

Let us all keep the driving “happy, happy!”

Gerald Maguranyanga moderates Road Safety Africa, on www.facebook.comRoadSafetyAfrica, an interactive community page that solicits ideas to curb road traffic accidents in Zimbabwe and Africa. Feedback: WhatsApp only please: +263 772 205 300

Source : The Herald