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To Boost Revenues Zimbabwe Hikes Traffic Fines

The government says it is embarking on a program to create four-lane roads as the current infrastructure has become dangerous after years of neglect.

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Zimbabwe’s roads have become chaotic after years of neglect as motorists try to look for smoother venues for their vehicles, in Harare, Dec. 31, 2018. VOA

Motorists in Zimbabwe are ringing in the new year by toasting — or cursing — increased traffic fines which are expected to raise needed revenue by the cash-strapped government and reduce car accidents.

Come Jan. 1, if motorists break a traffic law, they will pay as much as $700 for offenses such as speeding, drinking and driving, overloading their vehicle, or driving without a license. The previous maximum penalty was just $30.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government says the move, besides raising revenue, will reduce fatalities on the roads. But Stanford Chigwedere, a public transport driver, says he is against the idea because casualties on Zimbabwe’s roads are not caused by bad driving alone.

“Roads in Zimbabwe are now useless. They want to fine us; we pay tax but they are doing nothing,” Chigwedere said. “Now they are increasing fines to as much as $700, where will that money go to? All roads are full of potholes. We are giving them lots of money. We are not causing deaths or accidents on the roads; it is the police chasing motorists that cause accidents because we will be on these bad roads.”

Critics say the move is a desperate measure to squeeze money from an already overburdened citizenry.

Clever Mundau says he is for the new traffic fines being introduced by the government.

“I think the responsible authority have views, maybe they want the roads to be OK.” Mundau said. “So they are going to make sure that the roads are OK. So let’s just give them time.”

Zimbabwe, traffic
Obio Chinyere, managing director of the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, says major causes of road accidents include speeding and lack of discipline. VOA

According to the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, major causes of road accidents include speeding and lack of discipline. Obio Chinyere, the head of the government agency, says fines by themselves will not work.

“It is not only the fines when you look at the road safety, there are other instruments we can actually use, yes, the fines, but you also have to bring in education, road worthy vehicles,” Chinyere said. “We are saying; yes you can make an error as you drive, if you move out of the road, it shouldn’t be a death sentence, the road should be able to forgive you. Once you leave that road, you are gone.”

Also Read: Zimbabwe Government Aid in The Cholera Outbreak By Pledging Money

Narrow roads have also been an issue, causing some motorists to swerve and get into accidents.

The government says it is embarking on a program to create four-lane roads as the current infrastructure has become dangerous after years of neglect. (VOA)

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Zimbabwe Faces Shortage of Antiretroviral Drugs

Chiedza Chiwashira is one the HIV-positive inmates. The 18-year-old says the shortage of ARVs is not a big problem, but the shortage of other drugs is

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zimbabwe, HIV, antiretroviral drugs
Chiedza Chiwashira, one the HIV-positive inmates at Chikurubi Maximum Prison hospital, in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 13, 2019, says the shortage of ARVs is not a big problem, but the 18-year-old says the shortage of drugs for opportunistic drugs is a problem. VOA

A top UNAIDS official is in Zimbabwe as the country faces a moderate shortage of the anti-retroviral drugs that stop the progress of the disease. The situation is bad for HIV-positive Zimbabweans, but worse for prisoners living with the virus who say they are struggling to get treatment for opportunistic infections.

Zimbabwe’s maximum security prison is overcrowded, officials say, and that is putting a strain on resources, including medicines for inmates who have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Chiedza Chiwashira is one the HIV-positive inmates. The 18-year-old says the shortage of ARVs is not a big problem, but the shortage of other drugs is.

“Even painkillers we do not have. So if those kids, children of inmates, fall sick there is nothing to give them. Officials are saying things are tough out there so there is nothing they can do. At least we have cotrimoxazole and other ARVs. But if we fall sick it will be a problem. We appeal to those at home or those who can help us with medical drugs and antibiotics as the prison hospital has just ARVs,” Chiwashira said.

Dr. Blessing Dhorobha, the head of the Chikurubi Maximum Prison hospital, says the National Pharmaceutical Company is keeping the facility supplied with ARV drugs for now, but acknowledges other drugs are a problem.

“In terms of other opportunistic infections; pneumonia, meningitis, we are in short supply of those drugs such anti-hypertensives, anti-diabetics,” he said. “We are normally supplied by NatPharm. If they do not have stocks, then they do not deliver.”

antiretroviral drugs, zimbabwe
Shannon Hader, the deputy executive director of UNAIDS, talks to senior Zimbabwe Prisons Services at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 13, 2019. VOA

Shannon Hader, the deputy executive director of UNAIDS, said she came to Zimbabwe to see how it is helping vulnerable groups such as prison inmates and sex workers.

Hader says Zimbabwe has a good track record on AIDS, noting that the country introduced a tax to help patients, known as the AIDS levy, back in the 1990s.

However, “… what got us to this point in response won’t necessarily get us to the next level because what’s left to do might be more complicated than what we did first,” she said. “So I think Zimbabwe has the capacity to really accelerate, to meet the 2020 goals to be a model of the response. But that will take doubling in the next 18 months, and filling some of these gaps particularly with people that are often left behind.”

antiretroviral drugs
Raymond Yekeye, the head of Zimbabwe’s National AIDS Council, blames the shortage of medications on Zimbabwe’s chronic shortage of foreign currency. VOA

Raymond Yekeye, the head of Zimbabwe’s National AIDS Council, blames the shortage of medications on Zimbabwe’s chronic shortage of foreign currency.

ALSO READ: Zimbabweans Seeking Medical Help Fall by 50 Percent With Economy, Many Turn to Herbal Treatments

“We do have the AIDS Levy and it is sufficient to cover the gap that we require. But we have not accessed the foreign currency that we require to import the medicines,” he said. The lack of foreign currency has also made the country unable to import basic needs like food and fuel.

Earlier this week, the country’s health minister said Harare has begun receiving drugs from countries such as India, which donated drugs worth $250,000. That might ease the problem of shortages for prisoners with HIV, who can’t work to buy medicine on their own. (VOA)