Wednesday, 12 February 2020

KOMBI HOLDING BAYS NOW WHITE ELEPHANTS : COUNCIL


Harare City Council appears to have given up on plans for commuter omnibuses to offload passengers outside the central business district (CBD), with shuttle buses being arranged to move passengers from the outlying terminuses.

The four outlying terminuses — one along Coventry Road opposite Colcom Foods, one behind the National Sports Stadium, at the intersection of Dieppe and Seke roads and opposite Rhodesville Police Station are now abandoned.

The Coventry Road terminus was designed and developed at a cost of US$250 000 as a holding area for commuter omnibuses.

The 2014 plan was for kombis to park there and be summoned by municipal controllers into the city centre when needed, rather than parking along streets in the Kopje area. 

But the system, which was endorsed by traffic experts to cope with the lack of city centre terminus space, especially for western routes, was never given a trial.

In 2017, council decided to ban kombis from the city centre by compelling them to use the Coventry Road holding bay and three more that were constructed on arterial roads leading into the city centre.

In February 2018, the ban was enforced, but it  lasted just one day, with one passenger being shot by the police who sought to stop kombis breaking the ban.

Government overturned the ban after passengers objected to being charged two fares for a single trip into town. 

The city has five terminuses — Market Square, Copacabana, Simon Muzenda Street, Charge Office and Rezende Street.

These are normally congested, especially during peak hours, with the heaviest congestion experienced at the three that serve the populous western and south-western suburbs.

As a result, on most routes commuter omnibuses pick passengers at street corners in the Kopje area, normally referred to as Copacabana.

The Dieppe and Seke Road terminus has now been converted into a market that will accommodate vendors that were relocated from the city centre, while driving schools have taken advantage of civil works carried out by council to conduct their lessons there.

Open-air churches, especially apostolic sects,  engage in prayers alongside the vendors, who are operating from makeshift structures, without standard ablution facilities.

The Rhodesvile terminus was shelved after residents invoked environmental rules on development of wetlands. 

The terminus built next to the National Sports Stadium for the western routes is fast disappearing under overgrown grass, while heaps of quarry stones, sand and bricks are now the only evidence that there was some work done at the place.

The Coventry Road holding bay is now almost deserted, save for a few commuter omnibuses that park there in the afternoon when drivers rest in preparation for the evening peak hour.

A handful of vendors were selling their wares in one corner of the bay. Some commuter omnibus crews interviewed said they were there to rest and have their vehicles checked by mechanics.

“We normally come here for our lunch break because there are food vendors that sell affordable meals, while our vehicles are being checked or repaired by mechanics,” said one of the conductors.

“As you can see, there is a lot of room here to park and for mechanics to attend to our vehicles without harassment.”

Harare spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme insisted all was well despite evidence to the contrary, saying kombis were using the Coventry Road facility. “The one earmarked for National Sports Stadium is still work in progress,” he said. 

Mr Chideme said the Zimbabwe Republic Police should also be held accountable as they were stakeholders in enforcing law and order. Herald

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