Government has ordered illegal vendors and pirate taxis operating in the Central Business District (CBD) to move to designated sites with immediate effect. Addressing journalists yesterday during a Joint Operations Command (JOC) briefing attended by representatives of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS), including officials from the Harare City Council (HCC) and the Environment Management Agency (EMA), Harare Metropolitan Provincial Affairs Minister Miriam Chikukwa bemoaned the deplorable state of the capital.
She said the proliferation of illegal vending sites, including illegal pick-up and drop-off points by commuter omnibuses and pirate taxis (mushika-shika) in the CBD, had resulted in serious problems such as traffic congestion and loss of lives. The minister, however, did not state measures which the city will take in the event that vendors resist the move to drive them out of the city.
"I am instructing everyone vending illegally and operating kombis and mushika-shika using undesignated routes within the CBD area to move to designated areas as stated in their letters from the Harare City Council," said Minister Chikukwa.
The Minister urged vendors and transport operators to approach the HCC in order to be registered and allocated vending sites and operating routes, respectively. The local authority was also directed to ensure that vendors comply with the city's by-laws.
"In addition, kombis should comply with the law and use designated routes and pick-up points," she said.
"They should, with immediate effect, stop plying undesignated routes and pick-up points in order to decongest the CBD." Minister Chikukwa said council had since established designated sites outside the CBD for inter-city and rural termini.
These include Corner Dieppe and Seke roads; Corner Simon Mazorodze and Chitungwiza Road; Corner Rottenrow and Coventry roads; Golden Quarry road site near National Sports Stadium; and Robert Mugabe road terminus opposite Rhodesville Police Station. HCC health director Dr Prosper Chonzi noted that it was important to prevent the city from decaying to the 2008 level, which spawned diseases such as Cholera. The situation obtaining now is a clear example of a fall in environmental standards, We do not want a repeat of that. Our thrust as City of Harare is that we trade in an environment where everybody enjoys the benefit of being in Harare. So those allocated vending sites should move to the designated areas and do their business there, . He urged all unregistered vendors to approach their offices, saying registration was still in progress. Over 3 800 vendors have been registered in the past two days," said Dr Chonzi.
"We also want to reiterate that council by-laws do not allow push-carts in the city and cooking business, which has mushroomed all over. This interferes with the free flow of traffic." Dr Chonzi said most vendors were keeping their wares and dumping rubbish in storm drains, thereby choking the city's reticulation system. This, he said, results in potentially fatal flash floods when the rainy season begins. Harare Metropolitan EMA manager Mr Benson Basera said the clean-up exercise was timely considering that the rains were now imminent.
"We appreciate what the council has done. It is a development in the right direction. We want to abate pollution by all means,"said Mr Bhasera. The move to remove illegal vendors from the streets follows President Mugabe's call to restore sanity in the capital city. Addressing members of the Zanu-PF Youth League National Assembly from the country's 10 provinces at the party's headquarters in Harare last week, President Mugabe said the capital city must be the smartest of all the country's towns.