I read Tuesday’s Southern Eye about the mayor of Bulawayo Martin Moyo commenting on the construction delay of the Egodini traveller’s station hub for local, national and regional taxis, buses and luxury coaches.
The question that always comes to my mind every time I read about this project is why the mayor, his council and town planning team fail to understand that this kind and size of project is not ideal in that location of Egodini.
That site was good for the traveller citizen of Bulawayo of the 70s and now Bulawayo does not have that 1970s citizen traveller anymore.
So who are they putting that development for then in that location? Why create for today’s traveller with their swag attitude a jambanja travel hub?
My great-great-great grandmother Gogo Thwakuzo once told me that if one was to lead any one on anything successfully, one needed to understand the influence of “personal attitude” of people as individuals and as a collective on issues concerning and affecting them.
People’s attitudes make or break any success of anything that requires their participation and involvement as a condition of its success, she told me.
She was 107 years old when we had that discussion in the village and she never saw the doors of a formal school! How then do town planners and council leaders with university degrees fail to read and understand the attitude of their citizen travellers of today?
This kind of project in that location for today’s traveller will be turned into a white elephant in the shortest time possible after officially opening its doors to the travelling public whom it targets. It would be lucky if it lasts even some four years.
Then how does the investor expect to get their returns in that kind of estate and how will the whole complex be sustained? Through renting every inch of space to vendors? Travellers don’t need vendors it is vendors who need the travellers!
This is no longer the Bulawayo of the 1960s to the 1980s that was the centre of manufacturing with its large population buying umnqombothi on Fridays and jumping into the chicken buses and heading for the villages to be back in town on a Sunday evening.
This Bulawayo of yesteryear needed Egodini and Renkini models of traveller’s hub, but it is no longer so for today’s Bulawayo.
Does this point out to us that the mayor, councillors and city management do not know today’s Bulawayo and its needs?
Today’s Bulawayo has become the country’s most vibrant traveller’s transit city for Southern African’s cities and countries from Cape Town right up to Uganda and from Walvis Bay, Luanda all the way to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
I know so because I have researched and counted people as I developed the city’s cultural tourism product that the cultural centre continues to develop albeit at a very slow pace.
Just one exit route say to Victoria Falls has an average of 15 luxury coaches and 12 sprinter kombis per day and all these travellers don’t need the use of your type of Egodini, Renkini in Makokoba and Entumbabne. Those kinds of facilities do not meet their taste, location needs and schedule of swift travel pushed by different needs and languages.
They just can’t wait too long to move.
This is just for one route and Bulawayo has 12 such busy exit routes to all directions of Southern Africa. About 80% of these travelers are not your Bulawayo ordinary resident who needs Egodini, these are on the ground transiting through Bulawayo and need a different way of travel service and attention.
This is not yet even the pick of Bulawayo as a continental transit centre by road and air. The air transit has not even begun because as the city management and citizens, we have refused to see the city’s new role and opportunity as such. We want to see and plan for our Bulawayo that we have always known where intunthu kumele zithunqe even if today’s industrial machines can be easily driven by solar power and no longer had need for coal.
Bulawayo has still yet to grow as a regional transit travel centre of the continent like it or not, plan for it or not. Remember the city is sandwiched by four fast growing continental economies of Nigeria in the north, Kenya in the east, South Africa in the south and Angola in the east.
For a long time they will remain Africa’s fastest growing economies that will drive the African population to transit in larger numbers through Bulawayo.
Now just imagine taking this kind of traveller to crowd up with your inner city metro transport network to Pumula, Emganwini, Luveve and your low-density suburbs! You would have just created disaster at that location!
With the attitude of today’s traveller they would dump that hub and go to the exit highways. Buses and private transport will be picking them from there!
Our confused council workers will be left running around with clamps diving at car wheels to clamp the cars yet the truth of the matter would be that they can’t succeed because when people choose to stand at a certain point for service, it’s not about cars and clamps, it’s all about the traveller’s attitude, an attitude you have to deal with one way or the other to come to an understanding with that traveller.
I am afraid threats and fear are not the best way of dealing with public attitude.
Even today many people do not use Egodini. Ever asked yourself why? It’s customer attitude about Egodini and unfortunately today’s customer has a right to choice of service that is ideal to them. These are no longer apartheid customers of the sixties.
You just have to move swiftly ahead of them all the time to create more than ideal environments in first-class spaces and locations to serve them to their satisfaction or they will move on and find that satisfaction elsewhere.
Bulawayo needs three separate traveller’s hubs for the transit city that it has become. First it needs an inner city web model metro circuit. This straight-line model of city to Pumula or city to Nkulumane model is now outdated for the city and for today’s traveller.
Second it needs a national transport hub centre and network that connects with ease to the local metro web network at different points within the greater city of Bulawayo. Thirdly it needs a regional transport hub that is a standalone and is connected only through ground transfers from the metro web network and the national network hub. Even this model for the city has to be consistently updated every four years to attract today’s traveler to continue using it.
I am afraid to say that all of Bulawayo’s present day ranks and pick-up points are in wrong locations for today’s traveller and would not even be ideal for this three-layer model that I find ideal for the future of this city.
The current constructions and designs of the ranks are a disaster for today’s traveller! The locations are even worse! Take Egodini for an example; to get into the hub a traveller has to pass through Lobengula Street that has become one of the ugliest customer service buffer zones for any traveller of today.
The Entumbane location and layout is horror to say the list! Then there is that ugly non-user friendly thing located at the Nkulumane complex!
The Egodini project in its concept, structure and form will cause some seriously uncomfortable multiple forms of congestion to the traveller who expected to use the facility.
Sooner or later council will have to hire an army to force travellers to use the facility or start a stupid war with transporters who may be forced to shun the proposed travel hub to pick up passengers from the streets all over the city.
In making decisions the mayor and his team should stop moving ten years behind the city’s developments and move 30 years ahead of the city’s new directions. Bulawayo is no longer the city of the ’70s and ’80s! What worked then can’t work now.