THE reaction by Bulawayo residents who assaulted a police officer at the scene of an accident believed to have been caused by a law enforcement agent on Wednesday epitomises the frustration by citizens at the level of corruption on the country’s roads.
Sixteen commuters had escaped death by a whisker when a commuter omnibus they were travelling in overturned after its tyres were deflated by spikes thrown onto its path by police manning a roadblock.
The incident at the Khami flyover bridge in Kelvin left four commuters with life threatening injuries.
Predictably, police have tried to wriggle their way out of this embarrassing incident by heaping the blame on the driver of the vehicle who is said to be under age. They have also accused the driver of speeding and this is an indication that the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is not ready to take responsibility for the mess.
Police have come under fire before for using the notorious spikes on public transport vehicles. The belief is that drivers who try to flee from police manning roadblocks would be trying to escape from paying bribes to cops. There has been concern that police roadblocks have become too many on the country’s roads and the general feeling is that they are used to solicit for bribes from motorists.
ZRP is clearly aware that such perceptions are doing a lot of harm to the force’s image and we wonder what is preventing the senior commanders from acting decisively on this matter.
Wednesday’s incident placed the lives of motorists and the general public at risk. With the number of roadblocks, the ZRP should have reduced the number of unroadworthy vehicles and dealt with unfit public transport drivers a long time ago.
However, it is clear that police officers are not really interested in crime prevention, but have found a convenient feeding trough at these roadblocks.
They would not deal firmly with errant drivers, but will keep accepting bribes and letting them off the hook.
It would only take strong leadership from non other than police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri to end the lawlessness.