Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has directed Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to strengthen its by-laws so that the local authority can effectively deal with the congestion menace in the city centre, including along 5th Avenue which has become a haven for illegal vending activities.
Chaotic scenes have become the order of the day in the city centre with cross-border buses virtually taking over some parking spaces and turning them into undesignated pick-up and drop-off points in violation of the council by-laws.
Some of the buses have turned parking space along Fife Street in the city centre into a rank while others park between Leopold Takawira Avenue and 6th Avenue, opposite Bulawayo Central Police Station. The development has created congestion, making it difficult for pedestrians to walk on the pavements as the area now resembles a bus terminus. The chaos is happening in the full glare of police officers who are just a stone’s throw away.
Businesses in the city have also expressed concern over the commotion in the city centre, saying it affected their operations.
Pirate taxi operators have also invaded various parts of the city. Despite routine joint operations between BCC and the police, the situation remains the same. What is of major concern is that the illegal activities by bus operators have also attracted vendors who have literally camped outside business premises.
Speaking during a Covid-19 taskforce meeting in Bulawayo last Friday, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo said BCC should revisit its by-laws and make them relevant to the city’s demands.
Minister Moyo was responding to Bulawayo town clerk Mr Christopher Dube, who had raised concerns over council’s failure to maintain order in the city.
“The issue of congestion is a serious one. The city council has a responsibility to come up with new by-laws and strengthen existing ones to address the challenges emanating from illegal vending activities and congestion in the city centre,” he said.
“You can no longer continue to use the Covid-19 pandemic to control chaos in the city. So, your by-laws are there to make sure that we tackle such challenges,” he said.
“I’m happy to note that the Government at the provincial level is co-ordinating national institutions in line with the decentralisation agenda.”
Minister Moyo said council should make sure that sanity is restored along 5th Avenue.
He said all informal traders operating in the area should be regulated.
“The issue of 5th Avenue obviously needs to be given special attention. It cannot wait until you strengthen the by-laws. Council should also work with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) because they are the ones responsible for SMEs,” he said.
Minister Moyo described the situation along 5th Avenue as a mess that needs to be urgently attended to by the council, police and Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister’s office to avert health-related disasters.
“Let us all have a whole Government approach supported by everyone including the Ministry of Health and Child Care,” he said. — @nqotshili
Article Source: The Chronicle