In the meantime, everywhere you look, dirt stares back at you.
So bad is the situation in Harare’s CBD that one would be forgiven for thinking we no longer had any bylaws to give us a clear guideline of how to conduct ourselves.
Bylaws are established to regulate activities and control modes of behaviour in an urban setup. In places where bylaws are sternly in place, there is normally an orderly mode of operating and rarely do you find people conducting themselves anyhow as the law would not permit it. This, unfortunately, cannot in all honesty be said of Zimbabwe, and especially its capital city, where I doubt there is general knowledge of the existence of bylaws.
In Harare, jostling and rampant lawlessness is the order of the day as people basically do as they please with apparent disregard of the implications of their actions.
We have countless times talked about the country’s challenge to manage litter and how we have among us relentless litter bugs that do not seem aware of the fact that littering is in actual fact a finable offence.
This litter that surrounds us however, is but a tip of the iceberg.
If you are in Harare and do not own a car then you will know exactly what I mean when I say the public transport operators are generally a nuisance and are now way out of control.
It would seem the operators, especially those in the kombi business, are at pains to prove to all of us that they are “rough riders”.
They park their vehicles however the wish and because we have so many of them now, they always manage to create an eyesore. If they only parked in designated areas, like the Copacabana rank for instance, maybe it would not be so bad. But probably because they know they can get away with it, they park just anywhere and anyhow.
The noise that characterises their presence and their general rowdiness does not help matters. And because public transport operators seem to always be in a hurry, speeding is the order of the day, often with dire consequences as accidents have now become “just one of those things”.
“If you want to drive according to the Highway Code, you will never get to where you want to go, you have to wise up and keep up with these kombi guys,” said Simbarashe Chapoto, a motorist who expressed concern at the dangerous driving skills now being exhibited in the country.
City cleaners have also expressed their discontentment with the manner in which the public transport operators conduct themselves and their general disregard of laws.
“Every day I have to clean up after them (kombi operators) as they leave their empty kaylite boxes and other things lying all over their parking area. On some occasions I have come across bottles with urine in them,” said an elderly city cleaner, who requested anonymity.
And then there is the issue of illegal unlicensed vendors, who have now literally taken over the city.
Although we need to appreciate that these are people that are simply trying to earn an honest living in a country where over 85% of the population is unemployed, could it not be done in an orderly fashion?
After the Harare City Council (HCC) amended the vending bylaws this year, we thought sanity would be restored, but it seems this is not to be, at least for now.
Efforts to get an insight into the application of bylaws from the HCC public relations manager, Leslie Gwindi, proved hopeless as his cell phone went unanswered.
One thing is clear, it is absolutely necessary to look closely at the bylaws and amend them where there is need, so sanity can once again prevail.