Passenger group urges police restraint on kombis
By Staff Reporter
A LOCAL public transport passenger rights lobby has urged police and Harare city authorities to exercise restraint in carrying out their current clean-up operation which has seen operatives in dangerous street battles with commuter transport operators and vendors.
In a statement, the Passenger Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) said Monday it was concerned about the rights abuses that have accompanied the controversial exercise.
“…As PAZ, we are concerned by the manner in which the joint campaign by the HCC and the Zimbabwe Republic Police is being carried out,” said the group on Monday.
“We are of the view that piecemeal approaches to the problems will not solve anything.
“We have noted with concern the wanton abuse of human rights as the police carry out this clear and wanted campaign for both the members of the public and service providers.
“The manner in which the campaigns are being carried has resulted in innocent civilians suffering.”
The current clean-up operation also carried out during evenings follows a recent directive by President Robert Mugabe for the responsible authorities to rid city streets of illegal vendors and disorderly commuter operators.
President Mugabe said street vendors were disrupting the free movement of human traffic in Harare’s teaming streets.
Although there are no agreed figures, it is widely believed street vendors plying their trade on city pavements could be numbering above 2 000 at any given time.
The numbers increase during the late hours of the day when roads like Robert Mugabe and Julius Nyerere Way are virtually impassable because of pushcarts selling perishables and dangerously parked vehicles whose owners would be selling groceries packed in the vehicles’ backs.
The decision to clamp down on illegal operators has divided national opinion with the country’s opposition insisting the Zanu PF led government should deliver the 2,2 million jobs promised during the 2013 elections campaigns before throwing them out of the streets.
Authorities are keen to drive street vendors to places the city has designated for the trade but vendors argue that the places are far from their main customers in the city centre and were not properly equipped with ablution facilities to use.
In its comments, the passenger lobby group called on authorities to balance the livelihood needs of those who stand to be affected by the clean-up operation and the need to maintain order and cleanliness in the country’s busiest city centre.