Urban roads upgrade gathers steam

Urban roads upgrade gathers steam
Information Minister Mutsvangwa

Plans to modify and upgrade the Mbudzi roundabout and three others in Harare are at an advanced stage, with several sets of critical traffic lights repaired, reintroduction of timetabled Zupco services imminent, and a modern enhanced traffic management system for central Harare now being installed.

This comes as the Government moves swiftly to reduce congestion in the capital.

Government last month set up an ad hoc Inter-Ministerial Taskforce that was instructed to move swiftly and effectively to reduce congestion in urban areas, with particular emphasis on Harare Metropolitan where the problems were easily the most severe.

Within a week the taskforce recommended a swathe of solutions and ameliorations that could be implemented very quickly and these were accepted by Cabinet.

Government is providing financing for the initiative and will also monitor and supervise the collection and use of revenues by local authorities to ensure that rates and other charges are collected and that the money is spent properly.

Speaking after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the monitoring of Mbudzi roundabout and initial planning for the upgrade had been completed with specifications now being drawn up so materials can be ordered and work started.

Three other roundabouts besides Mbudzi were pinpointed for initial upgrade or repair, those at the intersection of High Glen and Gleneagles roads plus the Kuwadzana and Warren Park D roundabouts along Samora Machel Avenue West.

Minister Mutsvangwa said contracts had already been awarded and the delivery of material would be completed by June 15.

So far as the desired upgrade of Zupco services was concerned, with the taskforce wanting to see scheduled services reintroduced into at least high density suburbs so passengers could see when buses would leave and arrive and when they would pass designated bus stops.

The timetabling schedules were now 90 percent complete.

Minister Mutsvangwa said a mobile application for the prepayment of bus fares had been developed by the Harare Institute of Technology and construction of prepaid ticketing offices was now complete.

A pilot project to test the ticketing software, which had been certified by Zimswitch, began yesterday with 400 tap cards and 110 bank-linked point-of-sale (POS) machines already procured and delivered.

Harare will now be getting an enhanced traffic control system that continually changes the duration of signals at traffic lights to ensure the best traffic flows. The fixed time schedules now in place are simply a compromise based on averages, not on actual traffic flows which vary enormously between morning and evening rush hours.

The installation of optic fibre links had been completed on all controlled intersections in the city centre and a pilot project of smart traffic solutions was completed at the corner of Simon Muzenda Street and Jason Moyo Avenue.

“Fibre optic network on all strategic points across Harare linking them to the control centre and TelOne have been completed.

“Cameras have also been installed at the following intersections: Simon Muzenda Street and Jason Moyo Avenue, Samora Machel Avenue and Leopold Takawira Street; and Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way,” she added.

“Concerning the repair and upgrading of traffic lights on major junctions, Cabinet notes that a total of nine traffic lights along Samora Machel Avenue will be synchronised, with five having already been done and now operational.”

The newly synchronised lights, which raise the probability that a driver can move continuously through a line of lights without having to stop frequently, are at the intersections of Samora Machel Avenue with Bishop Gaul Avenue, Rekayi Tangwena Avenue, Abdel Gamal Nasser Road (Rotten Row) and Chinhoyi Street.

Materials are being procured to fix the lights at other critical junctions. Two junctions, that for Liberation Legacy Way (Borrowdale Road) and Crowhill Road by the Helensvale shops and for Harare Drive and Solomon Mujuru Drive (Kirkman Drive) have been completed and are set for commissioning.

“All carriageway markings for roads and parking bays, including reserved public transport lanes, in the Harare Central Business District are expected to be complete by June 30, with City Council procuring paint for the markings and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development providing the funding under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme.”

Road kerbs and jersey barriers had been put in place at the corner of Abdel Gamal Nasser and Robert Mugabe roads, while construction is underway at the next intersection

to the north of Abdel Gamal Nasser Road (Rotten Row) and Jason Moyo Avenue.

The kerbing and barriers are designed to ensure orderly traffic flows through intersections by stopping drivers trying to overtake on verges or perform illegal U-turns.

The minister said the enforcement of traffic by-laws would be strengthened with joint operations between the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Harare Municipal Police traffic teams.

She said the framework which had been piloted in Harare would be cascaded to all urban local authorities in Zimbabwe.