Police will next week resume roadblocks and checkpoints on the country's highways to minimise road carnage by enforcing traffic regulations ahead of the festive season, a Cabinet minister has said. Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Engineer Joel Biggie Matiza said police will be working in partnership with the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe and the Vehicle Inspection Department to restore sanity on the roads and curb traffic offences.
A high number of accidents are normally recorded during the festive season.
In an interview on the sidelines of the ministry's strategic planning workshop in Bulawayo on Monday, Eng Matiza said police and other stakeholders will be on the roads as from next week ahead of the festive season.
"We've had quite a number of accidents in the past month and we are taking measures to try and make sure that we curb the carnage on the roads. The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe has an extensive programme that they are doing on the roads together with VID and the police. So as from next week our roads will be flooded with activities of conscientisation and enforcement of laws and making sure that our roads are clear of unroadworthy vehicles, "said Eng Matiza.
"So it's an intensive programme that we've been working on and we are unveiling it.
"I'm scheduled to meet my counterpart, the Home Affairs Minister, this Thursday to discuss areas where we need to enforce the law. There are laws that are there, but they were just not being implemented. We have to make sure that those laws are enforced especially this holiday."
He said his ministry would be engaging concerned stakeholders to map the way forward in terms of taming road carnage.
"First of all, we had an inter-ministerial meeting to draft a raft of measures to ensure that we curb this carnage and we are in the process of meeting stakeholders. This coming week we will be busy meeting transporters, drivers and passengers' associations so that we map the way forward," said Eng Matiza.
He said the Vehicle Inspection Department will be out in full force to flush out unroadworthy vehicles and conduct spot checks.
Turning to the Accident road Fund, Eng Matiza said the announcement of funding by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development during the 2019 National Budget presentation was a welcome development.
"It's a welcome programme for us and we are finalising issues of the Road Fund. It's going to be a very important fund that will alleviate the suffering of the public when they are involved in accidents," he said.
"This will make sure that they are taken to hospital, they are attended to by ambulances and doctors because there is funding for that. It's a process that makes sure that we try to take care of the public."
The ZRP had become one of the most corrupt organisations during former president Mr Robert Mugabe's rule where cops had become synonymous with endless roadblocks where bribery was the order of the day.
But after President Mnangagwa assumed power, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Culture embarked on a police restructuring and retooling exercise in a bid to transform the ZRP into a people-centred force. Government last month announced that it had hiked fines for road traffic offenders
The maximum Level 3 fine had a monetary value of $30, but it will now be increased to a staggering $700.
Announcing the 2019 National Budget last month, Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube justified the increase saying Government was concerned with the "high incidence of accidents on the country's roads, which have resulted in serious injury and, in some instances, carnage".
Prof Ncube said it was sad that the accidents mostly claim the lives of breadwinners, placing a "huge financial burden on the injured victims, relatives as well as the State".
"In order to promote road safety culture by adhering to road traffic regulations, the Budget proposes that any person who commits such offences be liable to fines of Levels 8 to 10, which attract a maximum fine of $700 and imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months," Prof Ncube said.