In Harare there are two annoyances motorists have to constantly be on the lookout for: hungry traffic police and potholes.
I have just collected one of my tyres from Montagu service station after parting with a hefty $40 to get it fixed. Harare is one of those cities in the world where potholes morph into sinkholes. Yesterday I drove straight into a crater I couldn’t circumvent because of oncoming traffic. In any case it was the kind of road where you can’t exactly avoid potholes because they just look like Swiss cheese. If I had any close associations with individuals like his honour, Justice Cheda, I would also probably be able to sue and demand compensation from either the city council or government. Members of Parliament have asked for brand new 4x4s citing the bad state of roads that are prohibiting them from visiting their constituencies. To them, 4x4s seem to be the only solution though compounded by lack of money/will/interest to repair roads. The majority of roads now just need to be repaved. I shudder to imagine the nightmare of happening upon lethal water filled sinkholes come rainy season. I wonder if any of the $950 million credit lines from our ‘all weather friend’ China could be channeled towards road repair.
This morning I was allegedly ‘nabbed’ for running the ‘orange’ on Tongogara and Prince Edward Street. In Harare, it is a complete waste of time to try and explain anything to traffic cops most of whom I doubt have drivers’ licenses or understand the mechanisms associated with driving. The bored looking cop came up to my window and asked me how my day was. Good, I said. How is yours? Bad, he said. Because he had no money in his pocket, he explained. But he was sure I could share what I had. A minute later and ticketless, I drove off with a clear conscience because I’d rather feed that hungry looking fellow and his family with $10 than part with $20 that supposedly goes to the ‘state’ in the form of spot fine. I reasoned to myself that some of the cops fleece us because they are underpaid and have a genuine need to clothe, educate and feed their families. The ‘state’ is not using the collected spot fines to repair roads and traffic lights. Only God knows if that money is not part of what lines the pockets of and sponsors shopping sprees in Malaysia by you-know-who.