MORE than 80 percent of commuter omnibuses in Harare are operating illegally, but there will be serious transport problems if police launch blitzes to rid the city of such vehicles, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri said yesterday.Speaking at a pass out parade for 598 officers at Ntabazinduna Training Depot in Bulawayo, Comm-Gen Chihuri challenged relevant authorities to come up with a proper transportation system for Harare.
"Since such a big number of kombis operate without proper documents, how is the public going to travel without alternative transport system if the police remove such kombis from the road?
"The police cannot cherry pick a few law breakers and be hard on them leaving others for convenience. Certainly, it will not be fair to be selective out of such a huge number of law breakers," he said.
He urged the authorities to come up with strategies to de-congest Harare City by expanding various businesses outside the Central Business District.
"On the issue of kombis, members of the public and some police officers have lost their lives and some have been crippled by kombi drivers. This situation is regrettable and should never be allowed to continue.
"In fact, how does a criminal transfer his liability to a law enforcement officer who is merely enforcing the law? The criminal was reckless. He failed to stop and the kombi did not have the requisite documents," he said.
He said the aim of the police was to protect lives of individuals by enforcing the law and maintaining order.
"It is disheartening to note that the uninformed scribes have gone into overdrive trying to agitate and whip the emotions of the general public without finding the correct information. For the record, anybody, whether driving or pedestrians must stop when they are required to do so by the police," he said.
Comm-Gen Chihuri said it was unlawful for anybody to refuse to stop or even to try to runaway.
He said the guilty were afraid and that is why they tried to run away.
He said there were some people who had total disregard for the law.
"Now the million dollar question is, should they be allowed to disregard the law, be disorderly and cause chaos to the general public? Reckless behaviour on the part of road users is punishable," Comm-Gen Chihuri said.
"Let the public know that, kombis and in most cases the owners of these kombis, are operating outside the law. Now the question is, with this Herculean task of cleaning the city, is it a national task or a mere police task alone?" he asked.
The police chief said Harare's CBD was designed for about 280 000 people but now handles over 3 million.
He said the CBD was never designed for kombis and had only four pick up points, Market Square, Rezende Street, Fourth Street and Chinhoyi Street.