There are 3 shopping centers between Harare and Domboshava shopping centre and all 3 are very busy with traffic en route Bindura as well as workers, vendors and school children who commute within and without the peri urban area of Domboshava. A month ago, which is February 2015, I heard, yet again, of an accident that had occurred near Showground shopping center as I travelling on a combi to Domboshava. “It was a primary school child, a reckless kid who just crossed the road without checking” one of the passengers explained and soon there was talk about the obvious reckless drivers of commuter omnibuses who are murdering all the way in order to beat “madiff” (making up for on the losses due to a decrease in passenger inflow during the day)
This child who got hit was the fifth person in two months and at least two people had died in these accidents so far. I went on to find out how most pedestrians are hit and which pedestrians are most vulnerable and it turned out school children are mostly at risk. Private car operators are involved in these accidents more than public transport operators which was a shocking find given that public operators on this route are well known for overspeeding. Mere observations of the road between Mverechena, Mungate and Showground shopping centers helped clarify why accidents are happening in this manner. For starters I was shocked to find that there are no road signs informing motorists on their expected driving behaviour on this stretch. There is one bridge as we approach Mverechena shops and there is no sign of this upcoming road feature neither are there ‘speed limit signs’ nor ‘no stopping signs’ advising motorists to slow down because of the busy shopping center ahead. Mverechena is one of the busiest shopping centers attracting revellers from as far as Marondera and Harare who are seen partying mostly during weekends. During weekdays school children are seen, during school peak hours, going to and from school. Again there are no ‘school ahead signs’ informing motorists to take caution because of the surrounding schools.
The lack of signs is consistent as one goes past Mungate shopping center through to Showground shopping center. This stretch is characterised by schools, sharp curves and busy shopping centers. What this lack of signs implies is that it is lawful for motorists to speed past schools, and shops without a care in the world. As there are no pedestrian crossing points pedestrians have to be extremely tactful when crossing roads as they may find a speedy way to paradise.
The worst experience on this stretch is when you arrive at the Showground shopping centre where commuter omnibuses rank. There is confusion for both pedestrians and motorists. A pedestrian crossing over to a preferred butchery can easily be confused with a traveller going to Harare and trigger a “bus rush”. A “bus rush is when two or three buses speed over to get a passenger. This is caused by the fact that there isn’t a proper rank or ranking system. Five cars headed for one destination can be loading passengers at the same time and this system naturally creates a lot of confusion, noise and time-wasting.
I could go on describing what I have seen but the most surprising observation I made is that this stretch falls under Goromonzi rural district council. An important role of any council be it a rural or urban council is to plan. The planning discipline involves stating how to accomplish a goal within a certain time frame, usually with defined stages, and with designated resources. Planning within a rural or urban council involves planning of the infrastructure and development of settlements, including new towns and the management of change. A strategic planner takes a long view usually having on paper strategies needed in the next 10 to 50 years, meaning that a council should never be caught unawares when society goes through changes.
Domboshava has gone through a lot of changes and the council has noticed these changes much slower than it should have. There are definitely more people in the area than ten years ago, a lot of new and modern buildings are coming up and the locals are being pushed to upgrade theirs. The need for piped water and electricity is apparent. Naturally the need for water and electricity demands linear settlements for easier planning and installation of the infrastructure. More people means greater pressure on schools and hospitals. Although this write up is not about the state of schools in this district I must state that there are a lot of informal plus substandard schools and my greatest shock was a ‘chicken run turned crèche’ that is situated along Bindura road. The informal sector is also growing given the rise in the number of small business along the 3 shopping centers.
All the changes named above need to have been planned for. The increased use of public and private transport should have been planned for more than 10 years ago. There are more vehicles on the road now than ten years ago. There will be more vehicles on this road a year from now. There will be more and more deaths on this route if council does not invest in road signs and increasing awareness on the use of roads for both motorists and pedestrians. This is not a job for council alone but work needs to be done with the traffic council of Zimbabwe, Zinara and the community.
We just need a few road signs in order to preserve lives.