Traffic spikes – stop the madness

Much has been said about Zimbabwe’s narrow highways, potholed roads and drivers with fraudulently acquired licenses, but another danger lurks for road users – traffic spikes. Melody Chingwaru recently had a close call. Read her story.

Traffic spikes

The production line – a police officer welds more traffic spikes for Zimbabwe’s roads

What started out as a normal day turned out to be horrific as I tried to board a minibus at one of those undesignated points in the Central Business District of Harare. As I tried to board the kombi, the police arrived armed with their traffic spikes. As is a mouse’s reaction, in the face of a cat, the driver took off with me halfway into the vehicle!

If it had not been for one of the rank marshals who held me till the kombi stopped, I would have experienced the worst; probably I would not be writing this.

Are traffic spikes the solution?

The traffic spike issue is one thing that has been discussed tirelessly but with no realistic outcome. The police still believe it is one mechanism that will help curb chaos in the CBD and somehow restrain motorists who would be caught on the wrong side of the law. According to Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, in an article published in The Herald 12 April 2017, “spikes are not thrown at moving vehicles”. Officers are “trained to place spikes in front of vehicles where they have suspicion that a driver may fail to stop.”
In that news article, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charamba remarked that any officer who throws spikes at moving vehicles should be reported of such “misconduct”. This brings me to my question; why do these guys hover around with those heavy spikes in town?

Motorists do not respect corrupt cops

In my situation I do acknowledge being at fault for boarding a kombi at an undesignated pick-up point. However, I wish to understand what goes through the minds of the drivers who, when faced with the “spikers,” choose to speed off, ploughing through bystanders and pedestrians. In their minds is it justifiable to speed off just to prevent damage to their employer’s car? Or is it about the drivers fearing that deductions would be made on their salary in the event that the employer’s kombi is damaged?  It is also said that most kombi drivers flee out of wanting to spite them; just to avoid “buying a drink” for them – the euphemism for bribery.

The unending cat and mouse game

One can safely say that their relationship is like that of the timeless Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters, Tom & Jerry, who are always at loggerheads, despite the fact that they need each other to thrive. Faced with a common enemy, Tom & Jerry always team up and fight on the same side. Similarly, police are citizens too and ride the same kombis to work and back.

Recently, in May, a woman lost her life after Karoi municipal police officers threw traffic spikes in front of a moving car which led to the driver fleeing and ramming into her. It is not the only such incident. How many lives should be lost for everyone to realise that an alternative deterrent should be devised in order to make drivers abide to the law?

Put an end to misuse of spikes

As Martin Luther King Jr says “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” and I believe life is too precious for one to lose over a traffic ticket. Police officers are there to ensure peace and tranquility whilst drivers are there to ensure safe mobility from point A to B but this is no longer the case and it has to change.

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Images courtesy of Bulawayo24 News and Southern Eye

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