Karoi traffic lights stir controversy


Nhau Mangirazi

KAROI — The first ever traffic lights in this town have lit up controversy soon after commissioning last week.
Not only were the traffic lights not sanctioned by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, but they are also not being considered to be of necessity by the town’s residents who cannot access basic services such as constant water supply and well-maintained roads.
While council is currently battling to recover nearly US$2 million owed by residents and the business community to meet pressing obligations, residents cannot understand how it managed to raise US$35 000 for the solar-powered electrical street lights that have been erected along the Harare-Chirundu highway.
Before the residents had even fully come to terms with the new reality, some government officials from the Ministry of Transport arrived armed with hacksaws threatening to pull down the solar-powered traffic lights last Thursday.
Apparently some officials in the Ministry of Transport’s Mashonaland West offices slept on duty and failed to forward Karoi Town Council’s January application to install the traffic lights.
There was panic among junior council officers and councillors because the town secretary, Maxwell Kaitano, and engineer Oswell Mazvimbakupa, who knew of the modalities of how the traffic lights were set up, were out of the country. They were said to have gone to Malawi to attend a funeral.
Council chairman, Richard Ziki, was reportedly attending a meeting in Beitbridge.
Council vice chairman, Bernard Gwanzura, and councillor, Travolta Matekenya, were then immediately dispatched to Chinhoyi, the provincial capital, to seek clarification on the issue.
One councillor, who cannot be named because he is not authorised to speak to the press, said: “Ministry (of Transport) officials slept on duty. An application was done and hand delivered by our engineer Mazvimbakupa to provincial engineer, Mapurisa. The ministry provided their officials to assist our workers working on the highway. They even released materials from the ministry and the officials were getting allowances from the project that they say was never applied for. It is unfortunate that someone slept on duty and never sent the application that was made in January to the relevant department for approval. We still have the original copy of the application.”
Although the traffic lights failed to work properly on the very day they were installed due to a technical fault, motorists welcomed the development because it helped control traffic and the intersection.
Karoi Taxi Operators Association secretary, Cuthbert Rwodzi, said: “We are happy that these lights are assisting in easing traffic congestion although some motorists still need to learn more. We welcome the move by Karoi Town Council although these hiccups are purely administrative and so we cannot comment on them.”
Mashonaland West provincial engineer in the Ministry of Transport, Finale Mapurisa, confirmed the development but said it was now water under the bridge.
He said: “The issue has been resolved. I think it’s no longer an issue. We are now finalising the operational formalities. No robots will be removed in Karoi.”