Posted on Leave a comment

Avoiding or Dealing with a Car Invasion

Travel alert Harare CBD

The following tips will reduce the likelihood of a car-invasion, and get you through the experience OK.

A new development is the assault and mugging of motorists stuck in traffic congestion around the Harare CBD. The criminals are operating from a vehicle, and are likely to repeat the modus operandi.

Other incidents of car invasions include members of ZRP and the City of Harare municipal police climbing into vehicles, uninvited. Followed by attempts to extort the motorist of US$ …

If travelling/commuting around the Harare CBD cannot be avoided, we suggest:

Before Driving Off …

  • Get into the habit of seatbelt on and lock doors! Keep your car doors locked at all times with the emphasis on ALL times, applying to both males and females.
  • Lock valuables in the boot. Remove “smash & grab” opportunities.
  • When out and about, keep your phone charged, with airtime or data.

During an Incident …

  • Keep moving. If at all possible, drive to the nearest police station or a public area such as a shopping centre … wherever you will find a crowd.
  • Make a noise. Attract attention with hazards on and hoot constantly.
  • Message for help. If you are not already on a traffic group then message your local neighbourhood group or similar. You can be confident your community WILL respond.
  • Phone for help. Save “In Case of Emergency” numbers into your phone (under ICE or similar).
  • Avoid distracted driving. Put your cell phone away while driving and pay attention to your surroundings.
For information on the RING Dash Camera range, call/WhatsApp Sean on 0775 440 037

Useful Numbers in the Event of an Emergency

ZRP Harare Central Police Station, Operations: (0242) 748836 (24-hour). Contact for assistance with incidents around the Harare CBD.

ZRP Police General Headquarters Harare: (0242) 703631 (24-hour). PGHQ, Harare Anti-Corruption members will take calls from all over the country, referring you to the most appropriate personnel in your area, where necessary

ZRP Central Traffic (0242) 777640

ZRP Harare Suburban District (0242) 777639

ZRP Armed Robberies – Harare Operations (0242) 777777  / 748836

Police Stations:

Avondale (0242) 336361

Avondale  CRLO Traffic 0772 746 074

Avondale OIC traffic 0772 949 645

Borrowdale   (0242) 860067 / 61

Highlands     (0242) 495504

Mabelreign   (0242) 305651

Mabvuku       (0242) 491069

Marlborough (0242) 301802

Milton Park   (0242) 708113

Rhodesville   (0242) 495753

Ruwa             0732 132 726

(This list compiled by a Concerned Citizen and updated on 12.09.22)

The Help24Seven Mobile Phone App

We strongly recommend the Help24Seven mobile phone app. Press the EMERGENCY button for three seconds and your location and contact details will be shared with the Control Room, who will promptly call you to assist with your situation. The team will keep checking with emergency services and updating you until they arrive. For more information visit https://help24seven.co.zw/ or call Rodney Beadon on cell/WhatsApp 0772 320 090.

Please share this information with the vulnerable members of your family and community – especially your youngsters and senior family members.

Safe Journeys,
Sean Q. and the Big Sky Team

Posted on

A Dash Camera is Now Essential Vehicle Equipment

Poor driving has made a Dash Camera essential vehicle equipment in Zimbabwe

The deterioration of driving conditions across Zimbabwe has resulted in a Dash Camera becoming essential vehicle equipment. As a solution to overcoming corruption at the roadside, Dash Cameras became essential vehicle equipment during the road-block era that ended in November 2017. Since then, Zimbabwe has moved from being over-policed to disappointingly under-policed, with weak law enforcement. Furthermore, so many motorists are proving they need parental supervision, mostly due to the industrial-scale sale of drivers’ licences by corrupt VID staff.

The result is that many well-behaved, law-abiding motorists have become the unfortunate victims of harassment at the roadside and in police stations, and significant inconvenience inside a dysfunctional magistrate court system. The areas where us law abiding motorists usually experience problems are:

Organised confusion around Road Traffic Accidents (RTA’s)

A motorist dealing with an RTA will quickly discover he/she is on the back foot. Rogue members of ZRP often escalate incidents to incite fear in the motorist to secure a bribe. He\she is accused of “negligent driving”, must report to the station for fingerprinting and the vehicle will be impounded until the mandatory court appearance, etcetera, etcetera …
In the meanwhile the guilty motorist will often “encourage” the ZRP member to falsify the incident report at the site of the RTA. In a nutshell, everyone is lying, and the motorist is left spinning …

The result of accepting liability, even to the lesser charge of “driving without due care and attention” is a fine, and importantly, potential liability for any shortfall in the third-party insurance pay-out – which can run into several US$1,000’s!.

Roadside shenanigans affecting vulnerable motorists


Dash Cameras have proved particularly useful in dealing with “hit & run” scams, where a motorist is accused of hitting a cyclist or pedestrian, and not stopping. “Bystanders” chase down the motorist and after loud abuse, push for US$ cash to compensate the “victim”.

A common scam is a vehicle drives into the back of a stationery vehicle, with several men getting out of the vehicle and accusing the driver of the vehicle in front of having reversed into them. They leave after securing US$ compensation for the “damage” to their vehicle.

The categories of motorists most vulnerable to shenanigans on the road are women of all ages, youngsters and senior citizens.

Municipal police across the country are a problem


Most affected by rogue members of the municipal police are drivers of company vehicles, especially out-of-town trucks where the owner is conveniently far away. Motorists are often victims of individuals in plain clothes without any form of identification, possibly “municipal police”, extracting large sums of US$ in bribes from motorists avoiding significant fines. We wrote about the behaviour of Marondera’s infamous municipal police in November 2021, read more here https://bigsky.co.zw/municipal-fines-exceed-criminal-law-codes-scale-of-fines/

If you are with us and still reading, you’ll understandably be considering selling the car and staying at home!! However, as staying at home is not an option for most of us, we need a Plan B. We strongly believe that Dash Cameras represent an effective solution for your sanity and safety, and a Dash Camera is now essential vehicle equipment in Zimbabwe.

Rogue members of ZRP, VID and municipal police are most troublesome when they are anonymous/unidentifiable. The consequence of poor supervision by their superiors is the absence of personal identification being carried, and very often, individuals operate in plain clothes.

A Dash Camera instantly comes to your rescue

When a rogue member of a law-enforcement agency or a common criminal/liar, becomes aware that he\she is being filmed, the advantage immediately moves to you, the motorist. Out of fear of the potential consequences, everyone involved suddenly becomes more truthful and honest.

Combined with remaining calm, a knowledge of your rights and the ability to play back footage of the event, you now enjoy the advantage. Other areas where a Dash Camera proves useful:

  1. Clarifying actual speed when accused of speeding (GPS enabled devices)
  2. Uncomplicated playback of video at the roadside (especially Smart devices playing back through a cell phone app)
  3. Limiting abuse of company vehicles with locked/password protected Dash Cameras, also recording the vehicle interior.

Given the very real benefits that Dash Cameras will provide our motoring community, and not forgetting the problems experienced by Dash Camera users during the roadblock-era, we have been hard at work sourcing a range that will provide relief for our community. The result is …

Big Sky’s solution for Zim motorists … RING Dash Cameras

Manufactured by Ring Automotive Limited, United Kingdom, an OSRAM company, we are confident in the quality and functionality of the devices.

This is the latest generation in Dash Camera technology, with the award winning range being launched internationally in 2021. The RSDC3000 Smart Dash Camera with GPS Tracker (available through Big Sky), was positively acknowledged by Auto Express, UK. Read more here https://www.ringautomotive.com/en/dash-camera-best-buy-2022-rsdc3000

The RING range is backed by Big Sky’s “No Arguments” Warranty Support – with full technical back-up right here in Zimbabwe.

RING Dash Cameras are available right now at Big Sky Supplies, Pomona Shopping Centre, Harare. For additional information please email info@bigsky.co.zw or WhatsApp 0775 440 037.

Who in your community and family will benefit from the protection of a Dash Cam?

Please share this information with anyone in your family and community in the most vulnerable groups, namely women, youngsters, and senior citizens.

A Dash Camera is now essential vehicle equipment in Zimbabwe and we look forward to empowering motorists across the country, to take back the advantage.

Safe journeys,

Sean Q. and the BIG SKY TEAM

Posted on

Municipal Fines Exceed Criminal Law Code’s Scale of Fines

Municipality Trafic Fines

First published by Howard Dean in the Business Information Zimbabwe Bulletin, on 19 October, 2021. See footnote …

Municipal Fines quoted in USD, converted at Auction Rate,are much higher than Deposit Fines

Thanks to Sean for raising this one. He asked about the relationship between Council Fines for Traffic Offences in By-laws, imposed by Municipal Police, and Deposit Fines (for Traffic Offences and many other offences) in the Criminal Law Code’s Standard Scale of Fines, imposed by the ZRP. Specifically, he wanted to know if the upper limit of a Level 3 Fine (currently Z$2 000) in the Standard Scale of Fines that the ZRP can impose on-the-spot without the offender first appearing in Magistrates Court also applied to the Marondera Municipal police.

There appears to be an anomaly in the case of the Marondera Municipal Council. Traffic Fines set in USD during the multi-currency period (and not subsequently revised), when converted to Z$ amounts using the RBZ Auction Rate, result in penalties far higher than those prescribed for Levels 1, 2 and 3 (the so-called ‘Spot Fines’, or Deposit Fines) in the Standard Scale of Fines.

Last week a motorist’s minor offence of parking across a white line that demarcated a parking bay resulted in an on-the-spot Marondera Municipal Traffic Fine of Z$5 177.25, more than double the maximum Level 3 on-the-spot Deposit Fine of Z$2 000.

The relevant legislation in regard to that exorbitant fine is found in the Marondera (Clamping & Tow Away) By-laws, 2011, contained in Statutory Instrument 30 of 2011. It is noteworthy that the way the Municipal By-laws are written, an offender does not have a choice to decline to admit guilt, drive away and later argue his case in court. If he does not pay the fine on-the-spot, his car will be wheel-clamped and towed to a municipal pound and there detained until he pays the fine – plus the additional clamping charge and daily storage charges.

The Fines for 33 Traffic Offences in SI 30 of 2011 (referred to as ‘Charges’ in the By-laws) are all expressed in US Dollars. In 2011, of course, we were in a multi-currency situation, predominantly using the United States Dollar, and the Zim dollar had been done away with. However, the municipal fine last week was still apparently quoted in USD – and incorrectly quoted as well.

Today, in our latest ‘new-normal’ dual-currency situation, the 14 levels of Fines
in the Standard Scale of Fines are all stated only in Z$ amounts.

So how did we reach a situation where Marondera Council’s on-the-spot Fines are still quoted in USD and, when converted using the RBZ Auction Rate, result in penalties much higher than on-the-spot police Deposit Fines?

Many Council by-laws have for a long time been something of a mess, without consistency, and without a logical rationale in some cases. Traffic by-laws are a case in point.

For example, the Harare Clamping & Tow-away By-laws, 2005 (contained in Statutory Instrument 104 of 2005) refer under Offences to Fines ‘not exceeding Level 5’. This means that the limit of paying up to a Level 3 Deposit Fine without appearing in magistrates court, as laid down in section 141 of the Criminal Procedure & Evidence Act, comes into operation in regard to traffic violations in the Harare CBD.

However, the Marondera Clamping & Tow-away By-Laws, 2011 adopt a different approach. Section 4, as read with the First Schedule (which consists of a list of 33 offences extracted from the 1972 Marondera Traffic By-Laws), stipulates, “An authorized person (i.e. any person employed or delegated by Marondera Municipal Council) may, if he or she has reason to believe that a violation of the Marondera Municipal Council (Traffic) By-Laws, 1972, specified in the Schedule, has been committed, immobilize or cause such motor vehicle to be immobilized by way of a wheel clamp, provided that no motor vehicle shall be clamped without a traffic ticket having been issued first.”

The list of offences in the First Schedule includes, as item 6, “Park vehicle outside parking place in any road.” A machine-printed receipt was issued to the offending motorist in Marondera last week. It refers to “VIOLATION Code: V 006 Park in undesignated Parking Place” which presumably is intended to refer to item 6 in the First Schedule of SI 30/2011.

Opposite each of the 33 offences in SI 30/2011 appears ‘Charge US$’. These range from US$10 (“Park a pedal cycle within 5 metres of an intersection; and Park any vehicle within 10 metres of an intersection”) up to US$100 (“8-tonne vehicles using residential area roads; and Park vehicle with inflammable or dangerous materials close to building CBD area or residential areas”).

The US$ Charge for Violation 006 is shown in SI 30 of 2011 as US$40, not US$60. SI 30 has not been amended, as far as we can ascertain, so whether the US$60 fine has any legal basis is unknown.

Various issues arise from Marondera Municipality’s approach to Fines/’charges’

Firstly, 8 years after SI 30 was gazetted in 2011, on 24th June 2019 by means of Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019 the use of any foreign currency whatsoever (which included USD obviously, as the dominant currency) was effectively banned in Zimbabwe. The words actually used were “shall no longer be legal tender alongside the Zimbabwe dollar in any transactions in Zimbabwe.” While there were various exceptions to the mandatory use of the Zimdollar, and the list kept growing over the following months, Municipal Council Traffic Fines/Charges were not among the exceptions. So, effectively from June 2019, Marondera Council’s Fines/Charges became the equivalent in Z$’s at the rate of one RTGS Dollar to one US Dollar.
(This was subsequently backdated to February 2019 still at a rate of 1:1, by an amendment to section 22 of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 2019.)

However, on 29th March 2020 the gazetting of SI 85 of 2020 as the 2nd amendment to the principal Exchange Control (Exclusive Use of Zimbabwe Dollar for Domestic Transactions) Regulations (SI 212 of 2019) started us on the road to legitimately quoting prices in dual currencies (‘using the ruling rate’, which became the Auction Rate).

Presumably, Marondera Council then reverted to their US$ Charges for traffic offences, payable either in USD or ZWD at the Auction Rate – which is how I interpret the figure of ‘$5 177.25’ written by hand on the machine receipt issued by the Marondera municipal police officer. Dividing 5 177.25 by 60 gives a figure of Z$86.28 to US$1. (Presumably the Council is not adjusting its software to track the weekly Auction Rate.) If the ‘correct’ charge of US$40 had been invoked, the figure would become Z$129.43 to US$1, closer to the illegal parallel market rate.

Secondly, how did the Council reach the stage where 25 out of 33 of its ‘charges’ for traffic offences in 2011 exceeded the national Levels of Fines at that time?

Delving back into the history of that period, with effect from 1st February 2009 (and unchanged until 1st January 2017) amendments to section 280 and the First Schedule (‘Standard Scale of Fines’) in the Criminal Law Code (Chapter 9:23 of the Statute Law) set fines in USD for the first time as follows –
Level 1 US$5
Level 2 US$10
Level 3 US$20 (and Level 4 US$100 which can only be imposed by a Magistrate after appearance in Court – and which is the top of the range of Marondera Council’s arbitrary Traffic Offence ‘charges’).

So the Council’s ‘charges’ of US$30, US$40 and US$50 for traffic offences bore no relation to the Standard Scale of Fines in the Criminal Law Code at that time. Nonetheless, they were gazetted on 18th March 2011 in SI 30 of 2011 – so the Council appears to have some basis for imposing the ‘charges’.

It will probably have to wait till some irate motorist challenges their legality in Court before it can be determined whether mere Municipal By-laws can circumvent the Criminal Law Code in this way.

Footnotes:

To provide a comparative context, we looked at Fines in other Councils’ Clamping By-laws.
• The USD Fines in Bulawayo’s Clamping By-laws (SI 63 of 2015) were set at US$5, US$10 or US$20 in 2015, which were in line with the Levels, 1, 2 and 3 Fines in the Standard Scale of Fines at that time.
• Zvishavane’s Clamping By-laws (SI 118 of 2013) provide for a Fine not exceeding Level 3; as do Karoi’s Clamping By-laws (SI 94 of 2017); and even Marondera Municipality’s neighbouring Marondera Rural District Council’s Clamping By-laws (SI 202 of 2018) set a limit of a Level 3 Fine. (They also specify 35 traffic offences where the Fines were set at US$10, US$20 or US$30 – although the Standard Scale of Fines Levels 1/2/3 at that time were US$10/15/30).
• Another neighbouring local authority, the Ruwa Local Board in its Clamping By-laws (SI 77 of 2019) similarly set Fines of US$10/20/30 for 15 traffic offences.
• Finally, let’s look at Beitbridge, where traffic snarl-ups and associated offences are currently much in the news. In its 2018 Traffic By-laws (SI 43 of 2018), Beitbridge Council, now a municipality, stipulated a fine not exceeding Level 3 – and also Fines of US$5/10/20 for 17 traffic offences.

Marondera Municipal Council definitely appears to be the ‘odd one out’ in this assembly –and perhaps should re-visit its Clamping and Tow Away By-laws.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________

First published by Howard Dean in the Business Information Zimbabwe Bulletin, on 19 October, 2021.

The BIZ service comprises periodic Bulletins like this one, plus quarterly Journals reporting business-relevant High Court and Supreme Court cases. Subscriptions cover costs. If you ARE interested in paying a subscription to receive regular updates (Z$12 000 covers six months) please contact Linda Morgan at aquamor@mweb.co.zw

Posted on

Vehicle Spot Lights and LED Light Bars in Zimbabwe (including User Feedback).

Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ), supported by ZRP, is justifiably campaigning against the abuse of vehicle spot lights and LED light bars in Zim. In coordinated statements at the end of July, 2021, comments from the two organisations included “police have warned that external headlights mounted on vehicles that have been blamed for causing fatal accidents are illegal.” “Through Statutory Instrument 129 of 2015 government banned the mounting of additional headlights by motorists additional headlights which some motorists are fitted on their cars cannot be dimmed compromising the vision for other drivers.”

Said Ernest Muchena, TCSZ Acting Director Operations: “The TSCZ is deeply concerned by additional headlights that are being fitted on vehicles by certain individuals and organisations. These are not even spotlights or fog-lights, they are additional headlights that are being used to violate the laws in Zimbabwe. Our major concern emanates from the fact some of these lights have contributed to quite a number of collisions which are induced by the intensity of the lights and they also responsible for blinding headlight glare which is so intense that some drivers end up being involved in accidents long after the culprit using those lights would have gone.”

Read the full story here https://www.chronicle.co.zw/extended-headlights-mounted-on-vehicles-illegal-police/

Since the launch of the campaign, motorists across the country are being threatened with arrest, or impounding of vehicles. Members of ZRP are referring to section 28 (spot lights) or section 66 (dangerous fittings or fixtures), both of SI 129/2015.

Excerpts from SI 129/2015 (published in December, 2015) and the Big Sky Cubbyhole notes (published in March, 2017):

Headlamps – SI 129/2015, Section 18

  • A motor vehicle may only drive on any road if equipped with lamps and be kept undamaged, properly secured and in an efficient operating condition at all times. Sect. 18(1)(a)
  • A motor vehicle will be equipped with two or four headlamps, attached to the front of the vehicle. Sect. 18(2)(a)
  • The headlamps shall be of equal luminous intensity and shall direct a steady beam of white light or amber light or any other light approved by Standards Association of Zimbabwe ahead of the vehicle. Sect. 18(3)(a)
  • Fitted at the same height on either side of the longitudinal axis of the vehicle. Sect. 18(3)(b)
  • The headlamps shall be capable of illuminating the road for a distance of at least 70 metres on main beam and 50 metres on dipped beam, directly in front of the vehicle. Sect. 18(5)(a)
  • Focused and directed to avoid dazzling the vision of the driver of any approaching vehicle on a level road. Sect. 18(5)(b)
  • Equipped with a control, operated by the driver, to extinguish or deflect downwards the headlamp beams to render them incapable of dazzling the vision of the driver of any approaching vehicle. Sect. 18(5)(c)

Spot lights – SI 129/2015, Section 28

  • A motor vehicle may be equipped with not more than two spot lights. Sect. 28(1)
  • To be fitted at a height lower than the headlamps (headlamps are referred to in section 18). Sect. 28(2)(a)
  • To be fitted at the front of the vehicle and focused to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers. Sect. 28(2)(b)
  • A spot light fitted to a vehicle and used solely for the purpose of “hunting, searching and night repair work” may be fitted above the height of the headlamps. Sect. 28(4)

Dangerous fittings or fixtures – SI 129/2015, Section 66

  • No person shall drive a motor vehicle or trailer on any road if anything is fitted or fixed to the vehicle or trailer in such a way as to endanger any person on or outside the vehicle in anyway.

The Opinion of Big Sky Supplies and our Advisors:

  • Up to 4 head lamps and 2 spot lights are specifically provided for in SI 129/2015 and their fitment and use is therefore legal – subject to compliance, e.g. being “in efficient operating condition” and spot lights are “fitted at the height lower than the head lamps.”
  • LED light bars are not covered in ANY regulations, including SI 129/2015. The law is therefore silent on the construction and use of these lights and ZRP is not in a position to penalise motorists for using them – subject to compliance with the Statutory Instrument, e.g. the LED light bar or spot light is “equipped with a control … to extinguish … the headlamp beams”.
  • There is no reference in SI 129/2015 to the dimensions or required watts of headlamps or spot lights. (For info: A watt (W) is a unit of measurement of power. Watts therefore refer to the power of your device).
  • Note the exemption: “A spotlight fitted to a motor vehicle and used solely for the purposes of hunting, searching and night repair work may be fitted above the (head) lamps”
  • Section 66 of SI 129/2015 refers to dangerous fittings or fixtures and is irrelevant to lights. ZRP is not in a position to penalise motorists for spot lights or LED light bars under section 66.

    Big Sky wholeheartedly supports the TSCZ campaign to improve road safety through the responsible use of headlamps and spotlights, however ZRP can only apply existing regulations. If the regulations do not exist or require updating, SI 129/2015 must be amended accordingly, with guidance from the Standards Association of Zimbabwe.

We trust these notes guide all concerned in improving safety on our roads whilst enjoying the journey,

Thank you and Take Care,

Sean Quinlan

18 August, 2021

PS: Further resources:

USER FEEDBACK:

Hi Sean, thanks for your efforts on the lighting issues and yes, light bars are a problem as quite often it is the only light source on a vehicle. The original law on spot lights was that they had to be connected through the dip switch which meant they were extinguished as soon as the lights were dipped. Just having a switch to extinguish the light is really not the answer – the dip switch is!
The mounting of the lights is also a grey area as it is written – define ” mounting “! Even if the lights are mounted below the bumper, they can still be set to shine in the face of oncoming traffic! Overloaded vehicles on dip are also a problem as the lights still shine in the face of oncoming traffic!
It is a complex issue and can ONLY be addressed by night time operations and educational programmes as so many motorists don’t even know how to dip their lights ??.
Removing light bars is a start but so far to go!!

(Author: RS, 8 September, 2021)

Thanks for the email, I have several vehicles fitted with led bars and spot lights, at great expense, so I don’t know how one can agree with either ZRP or TSCZ in any form in relation to this latest knee jerk reaction from the vehicle authorities? With regard to night driving, perhaps there unaware of the dreadful state of our roads, which is compounded with zero lighting in most parts of Harare, let alone everywhere else throughout Zimbabwe, what else are we supposed to do in order to safe guard our families during night driving and poor visibility? Additionally, is all the scary cattle donkeys and other wild animals that wonder onto our roads at night. Our authorities need to plan before they simply decree!

The majority of oncoming vehicles at night, simply refuse to dip there lights, even when one applies continual full beam, but somehow they find there dip switch, instantaneously, when one simply flashes a light bar?

Yes there needs to be an understanding of when, and how a light bar can be safely used, am in full agreement of this. But am so tired of the continual poor planning and poor governance in relation to vehicle rules and regulation, one only has to look at the very recent past when everyone was made to purchase yellow reflective vests , fire extinguishers that never worked, the insane red & white reflectors, that are so out dated with today’s vehicles, that have reflectors inbuilt into the front and rear lights. Look at all the money wasted by the vehicle authorities on number plates. Again and again the driving public are at whims of individuals that refer to a high way code and vehicle regulations from the 1960’s. Perhaps they have not noticed that life and technology has moved on (since) the 120Y and the 404?

Government authorities, who should plan and make rules and regulations, that form driving laws, are paid by tax payers and the licence paying driving public, who are fatigued by the constant harassment at check points manned by undisciplined police officers simply looking for bribes. If they want to be taken seriously then, plan strategize and formalize proper concise rules and regulations, that are cognisant and reflect of the modern age.

(Author: JB, 7 September, 2021)

Thank you for your email, and all the hours you put in doing this community work!

I would like to suggest that the “public” leaning towards the ZRPs opinion is possibly the keyboard warriors of our society? Some of us are strongly pro lightbars, but choose not to argue or comment on Facebook posts, as it only creates drama and unnecessary spats. Although I have come close to commenting on this issue!

I have had a light bar fitted since 2014, (below the headlights, connected into high beam) This light bar has saved my life on several occasions. (Not exaggerating for effect) While I understand there are people who are abusing the light bars, I believe regulation is the solution. Here are my thoughts:

  1. These lightbars are legal in the first world, although I am not aware of the regulations around it.
  2. Many vehicles in ZW are not adequately maintained and it is a common occurrence to come up behind a vehicle with no rear lights or vehicle with 1 headlight.
  3. The fences along our highways are in a poor state of repair in many places, often you find livestock in the road.
  4. Poor road markings along our highways make night driving more dangerous too.
  5. The lightbar and spotlight abusers who choose not to dip their lights to oncoming traffic high beam flash often dip to a light bar.

The list I’m sure goes on. I believe lightbars should be legal in Zimbabwe of all places! The roads will be more dangerous without them. I wanted to share my 2c so you know there are people out there who are pro light bars but not interested in Facebook disputes.

(Author: SP, 7 September, 2021)

Posted on

The State of Post-Crash Response in Zimbabwe

Ace Air & Ambulance has introduced Emergency Medical Rescue Membership Packages

It’s over the weekends that we hear the most appeals for an ambulance to attend to a road accident. The good Samaritans who have stopped to help usually struggle to get an ambulance to attend. The inevitable sad outcome illustrates the poor state of post-crash response across Zimbabwe.

I can talk with the benefit of attending an event on Friday, 21 May, 2021, organised by the Road Safe Zimbabwe Trust. https://www.facebook.com/Road-Safe-Zimbabwe The Operations Director of Ace Air & Ambulance (Pvt) Ltd presented on post-crash response. Some of the key points:

  • Due to an under-resourced local government, the burden for post-crash response has fallen on the private sector.
  • The private service providers do not have the resources to service all of Harare and the rest of the country.
  • An ambulance is not a “kombi” with a red light providing transport. The service provider will have to provide medical equipment and personnel, all which come at a cost.

There is good news for Zimbabwean’s looking for post-crash assistance, or indeed any medical emergency support. Ace Air & Ambulance has introduced Emergency Medical Rescue Membership Packages which include:

  • Basic: Road Ambulance, country wide 24 hours – Cost US$ 1.00 p.p.p.m.*
  • Intermediate: Road Ambulance & Helicopter Rescue, country wide, 24/7 – Cost US$ 3.50 p.p.p.m.*
  • Advanced: Road Ambulance, Air Ambulance, Helicopter Rescue and Emergency Call Centre, country wide 24/7 – Cost US$ 5.00 p.p.p.m.*

* Per person per month (For effective administration the minimum period is 6 months).

We believe all these Membership Packages are amazingly affordable and provide effective post-crash and medical emergency response throughout Zimbabwe.

Effective post-crash response is one of the five key pillars of the United Nations Global Road Safety Management. https://www.un.org/en/safety-and-security/road-safety
Sadly, the lack of effective post-crash response is a major contributor to Zimbabwe’s high fatality rate from road accidents.

We encourage our community to take advantage of this opportunity to become self-reliant, by visiting Big Sky Supplies where our staff will assist with your application and arrange your Emergency Medical Rescue Membership Card. For more information visit https://www.ace-ambulance.com/, see our flyers in-store or email info@bigsky.co.zw.

Safe journeys,

Sean Quinlan

CEO, Big Sky Supplies

PS: We previously covered the issue of medical air evacuation out of Zimbabwe, in July 2020. Read more here https://bigsky.co.zw/how-medical-air-evacuation-works-in-zimbabwe/

Posted on

Making Sense of Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021

Big Sky #Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021

There have been high hopes that “non-essential” businesses would be allowed to open as the current phase of Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021 ended on Monday, 15 February 2021. In his address to the nation on the same day, President Mnangagwa announced four significant changes, but the announcement also generated confusion around the reopening of “non-essential” businesses. The publication of SI 42/2021 on the same day formalised three of the changes.
Once again, Big Sky attempts to make sense of Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021 …

WHAT HAS CHANGED DURING THIS PHASE OF ZIMBABWE LOCKDOWN 2021?

There are three principal changes stated in SI 42/2021 published on Monday, 15 February, the same day as the President’s announcement:

  1. The Level IV national lockdown is extended to midnight of 1 March 2021
  2. Curfew has been shortened, now 20:00 to 05:30 (from 18:00 to 06:00)
  3. Business hours for supermarkets and other essential services are extended, now 08:00 to 17:00 (from 08:00 to 15:00).

However, during his announcement on 15 February, the president also stated: “Those in the informal sector may only open once they have satisfied WHO protocols.” This implies that the informal markets may operate (conditionally), even though not stated in SI 42/2010.

In the public announcement on the lockdown extension, the President also stated, “All private companies seeking resumption of operations should test their employees in compliance with WHO protocols.” There is no reference to “private companies” in SI 200/2020 (the consolidated lockdown order), or SI 10/2021 or SI 42/2021 published on 15 February.

We are left wondering whether private companies seeking resumption of operations refers to companies that have been closed during the lockdown that commenced on 5 January, including non-essential services? Any clarification will be published here.

TRAVEL BY ESSENTIAL SERVICES WORKERS

As before, workers in the Essential Services sector are to carry copies of the Lockdown Exemption Letter issued to their company/organization, and a letter on the company/organization’s letterhead. As there has been no statement from ZRP to the contrary, it appears letters issued for the initial period of the lockdown will continue to be accepted during the current extension.

Lockdown Exemption Letter:

According to the “Final Revised Ministry Statement, 4 January 2021”: “Companies in the manufacturing, distribution, wholesale, retail, commerce, tourism and hospitality industry are advised to make use of the Lockdown Exemption letters previously issued by Ministries of Industry and Commerce and Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry for the next seven (7) working days, during which companies should renew their exemption letters.”

And: “Regarding the Tourism and Hospitality industry, Agriculture and Mining the companies in these sectors should get their Exemption letters from their respective parent Ministries.”

The press statement issued by ZRP on 4 January 2021, states: “Movement and exemption letters will now be issued by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce”

This implies that “Do It Yourself” letters/affidavits stamped by ZRP will not be accepted at the checkpoints, and only a Ministry issued letter will be accepted. Given the massive pressure and (unhealthy) congestion at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce offices, we expect other entities to approach their respective ministries, including Tourism, Agriculture, etc. (Also see Notes, below).

Employer’s Letter:

According to the “Final Revised Ministry Statement, 4 January 2021”, the employers’ letter should include:

  • Employee name and ID number
  • The points of commute
  • Company line of business/products and state how that is covered by the Statutory Instruments
  • Working hours, and shifts where necessary
  • The letter should be signed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Managing Director (MD)

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) in another of their very useful updates, published a suggested template for the employer’s letter. (For a copy of the CZI update, email sean@bigsky.co.zw).

INTER-CITY TRAVEL DURING ZIMBABWE LOCKDOWN 2021

Inter-city travel during Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021 is still restricted. ZUPCO remains the sole authorised public transporter. Members of the public can still only travel on essential service and must carry documentation or similar proving the purpose of the trip. Where practical, we recommend not more than one person in a vehicle, to avoid the appearance of ‘holidaying’. If more than one passenger is travelling, all must be carrying ‘letters’.

Checkpoints typically accept up to 4 passengers in a vehicle with both front and rear seats, and 2 passengers in a pick-up/truck with front seats only. Every occupant of the vehicle must wear a mask.

HOLIDAY AND RECREATIONAL TRAVEL

The Health Minister’s public announcement on 2 January, 2021, said, “Tourist facilities and national parks will operate as before subject to the usual health precautions”. Given the Health Minister’s ruling it is a given that tourists must travel to their holiday destination, and the great majority will travel by road.

However, the continued operation of the “tourist facilities and national parks” is not explicitly provided for in SI 10/2021 nor SI 42/2021. We therefore advise domestic tourists travelling by road to carry hardcopies of your accommodation bookings AND a copy of the Health Minister’s “Lockdown Statement, 2 January, 2021”. (For a copy of the MoH statement, email sean@bigsky.co.zw).

TRAVEL BY DOMESTIC STAFF

Once again there is no reference in any Statutory Instrument, ZRP or ministerial statement to travel by domestic staff or any persons employed by a “non-commercial entity”. As previous, we recommend employers prepare a letter based on the formal employer’s letter (see above), supported by an affidavit stating the purpose of the travel and stamped at your local police station.

NOTES

There is no reference in SI 10/2020 making it a requirement for motorists to carry letters stamped by ZRP. Based on inter-city travel during the 2020 lockdown periods, provided the motorists’ documents were in order, ZRP stamped letters were neither requested nor expected. However, given the pressure on the various ministries, we understand employers and travellers are approaching police stations with a letter and supporting affidavit, and being assisted.

Under no circumstances should you pay for either Exemption Letters or police stamps.

These notes are provided for guidance only and should be read with the Public Health Order (COVID-19) and subsequent amendments. We welcome any feedback, kindly email sean@bigsky.co.zw.

ZRP CONTACT NUMBERS

To report cases of harassment and attempts to solicit bribes at lockdown checkpoints or at police station level, contact:

ZRP Police General Head Quarters – Internal Investigations. 2005 Fife Avenue, corner Enterprise Road, Harare: (0242) 702083 / 707702 (Office hours only. After office hours call PGHQ, number below).

ZRP Police General Head Quarters, Harare: (0242) 703631 (24-hour)

 – PGHQ, Harare Anti-Corruption members will take calls from all over the country, referring you to the most appropriate personnel in your area, where necessary. Senior members of the Zimbabwe National Army are coordinating anti-corruption efforts with their counterparts in PGHQ.

ZRP Provincial Operations, Matabeleland: (0292) 885479 (24-hour)

ZRP Provincial Public Relations: (0292) 260358 (Office hours) – Contact for assistance with incidents throughout Matabeleland

Thank you,

#stayathomestaysafe

Sean Q. and the BIG SKY TEAM

Acknowledgments:
Howard Dean, publisher of BIZ Bulletin and Labour Relations Information Service. Subscription inquiries to aquamor@mweb.co.zw

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI). (024) 2251496

Optima Legal (Pvt) Ltd. Visit www.optimalegal.co.zw

To download copies of all COVID-19 statutory instruments and amendments, visit https://www.veritaszim.net/node/4120

Published 06 January 2021

Posted on

Mozambique Travel During COVID-19 (December, 2020)

Mozambique Travel update during COVID-19

We’ve all missed Mozambique travel during COVID-19 restrictions. At the time of writing, COVID-19 regulations and congestion are complicating the journey but Mozambique is a beautiful country, and once through the Forbes/Machipanda chaos, the border hassles will have been worth it. We trust these notes will prepare you for Mozambique travel during COVID-19 …

Mozambique COVID-19 Travel Regulations (at the time of writing):


A visitor may enter Mozambique with a PCR test certificate issued within 96 hours*. From the time the sample has been collected, travelers have 96 hours for the first border crossing. (*Extended from 72 hours and became effective on Saturday, 19 December). The regulations listed on the Facebook/DriveZim group state that if the visitor returns within 14 days, another COVD-19 test is not required. Regardless, arrange to have a PCR test in Mozambique, within 48 hours of issue, for re-entry into Zimbabwe (all ages).

Make sure you have your Yellow Fever Card if you have traveled to central or eastern Africa in the last 12 months.

A short overview of the documents to carry:
Passport, police clearance certificate, vehicle and trailer registration papers, and insurance certificate. If compliant in Zimbabwe, your vehicle will display the licence and insurance discs, and Third Plate.

Remember the SDC requirements for minors, who require specific documents when crossing borders. For more on this, http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/statements-speeches/621-advisory-new-requirements-for-children-travelling-through-south-african-ports-of-entry-effective-1-june-2015

At the time of writing, fuel is cheaper in Mozambique and readily available.

Road conditions (Inchope to Vilanculos)

Once you turn towards Vilanculos at Inchope there are some bad potholes for approximately 50km but from then onwards the roads have been repaired or resurfaced all the way, making for a far more pleasant drive.

Curfew regulations (Inchope to Save Bridge)


With the ongoing Renamo/Frelimo tensions, a curfew has been imposed. 
The section between Inchope and Save Bridge is under a 19:00 to 07:00 curfew. The road only opens at 07:00 and the last car is allowed to enter either side at 15:30. In mid-December, 2020, a traveler reported 28 military and 4 police checkpoints.

A case of Cokes or frozen bottles of water will be appreciated and ensure that delays at the checkpoints will be kept to a minimum.

Vehicle equipment requirements for your Mozambique travel during COVID-19


We are often asked what the vehicle equipment requirements are for Mozambique. If your vehicle is compliant with Zimbabwe’s statutory requirements, you are well covered.

But unique to Mozambique are the following vehicle equipment requirements

  • If towing, you must display Mozambique yellow on blue triangles, which are available from Big Sky. The large decal is to be placed on the right-hand side at the rear of the trailer, and the small decal on the right front of the towing vehicle. Be aware these triangles are required ONLY if you’re towing …
  • We also recommend you carry a reflective vest for each occupant in the vehicle.

For your peace of mind, we recommend the following as essential equipment:

  • A good map. Big Sky stocks the Mozambique/Malawi InfoMap with GPS coordinates and points of interest.
  • You’ll want to drop your tire pressures when off the tar. This will improve your ride over corrugated gravel roads, and significantly reduce the chances of getting stuck in soft sand. An air compressor is essential for reflating tires before driving at high speeds. Big Sky stocks the T-Max 72 litre compressor which will inflate your 4×4’s tires faster than you’ll finish your Coke.
  • A decent tow strap will come in handy when you are a good Samaritan and recover a stuck vehicle …
  • Consider fitting a long-range fuel tank and avoid the hassle of jerry cans at the border and the roadside. Big Sky is supplying quality, auxiliary fuel tanks for a wide range of vehicles, including the Ford Ranger, Isuzu (6th generation), Toyota Hilux (Vigo and Revo), Landcruiser (75, 79, 80, 100 and 200 Series), Fortuner; and Nissan Hardbody and Navara, and VW Amarok. For more, visit https://bigsky.co.zw/tales-trails/ 
  • To check availability and price for your vehicle, email sean@bigsky.co.zw or call/WhatsApp on 0772-420-517    

Finally, you could be driving in isolated areas. Check the road worthiness of your vehicle, tyre condition, including the spare wheel, etc..

Take it easy and enjoy the drive, it is not only the destination that is beautiful. Wishing you a safe and hassle-free journey,

Obrigado,

The Big Sky Team

Published: 16 December, 2020

Other resources:
Facebook/Zimvine post 14 December, 2020 https://bit.ly/3nuzcaF
Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/DriveMoz

Posted on

Number Plates in Zimbabwe

number plates | Zimbabwe | Big Sky Supplies

An appeal to ZRP and the Ministry of Transport to show consideration …
There is an insufficient number of number plates in ZImbabwe to meet demand and the impounding of vehicles is disproportionate treatment of motorists who are simply unable to properly register and license their vehicles. And Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) is about to run out again …

Since the joint announcement by ZRP and CVR on the 8th of September, 2020 that vehicles not displaying number plates would be impounded, a great deal of motorists have had their vehicles impounded despite their best efforts. Unscrupulous members at lockdown checkpoints are using this opportunity to extort fines from motorists to be allowed through the checkpoints. Despite CVR’s claims that permanent number plates are available, CVR is unable to meet the backlog of tens of thousands of vehicles requiring numberplates going back to 2019, as well as the demand from recently purchased vehicles. In a statement on the 10th of September Zinara encouraged motorists to properly license their vehicles however without a registration number (issued by CVR), it is impossible to license a vehicle …

Advising motorists to park their vehicles until they are properly registered and licensed is not a solution. In the absence of an efficient Public Transport System, the owners have invested in their vehicles to carry out their business and family affairs and should not be compromised through a dysfunctional environment. 

The registration of vehicles and displaying permanent number plates is vital to reduce crime such as hit-and-runs, robberies, and child abductions. Being able to identify vehicles and their overnight address will also encourage ZRP to re-introduce form 265 which does require the ability to identify offenders. Motorists who have made no attempt or deliberately remain anonymous should be penalized however we encourage the Ministry of Transport and ZRP to show consideration for the realities on the ground.

We recommend that all vehicles displaying Temporary Identification Cards (TIC) dated from the 1st of March, 2020 onwards be permitted on the roads and given a reasonable period to comply. However, vehicles with TIC’s issued prior to the 1st of March or showing no form of identification at all should be parked by their owners but if used, ZRP is in a position to impound.

Equally, ZRP and other authorities must accept full responsibility for vehicles that have been impounded. It is unacceptable that body parts and fuel is stolen from vehicles in the custody of ZRP, City of Harare, and other Councils.

The Ministry of Transport should rapidly scale up the production of number plates in Zimbabwe as well as investing in Central Vehicle Registry’s infrastructure which is currently in shambles, often lacking paper, stationery, and with broken photocopiers making it very difficult for the men and women of CVR to carry out their jobs.

We look forward to CVR and ZRP making a favourable announcement without delay.

With respect,

Sean of Big Sky

This appeal was first published on Facebook group Dear ZRP on 12 October, 2020

Posted on

How Medical Air Evacuation Works in Zimbabwe …

MEDICAL EMERGENCY AIR EVACUATION

Many people are wondering during the COVID-19 lockdown if medical air evacuations are happening and would they be evacuated without delays in the event of an emergency. Regardless of the lockdown, air evacuation is a complex issue.

My name is Sean Stein and I am an independent healthcare consultant. This article came about from a recent chat with a new client in Victoria Falls, who asked …

“If I want to be evacuated, will they do it without any delay?”

Well the answer to the question is not quite so simple. Here’s why …

A) Medical air evacuation aircraft can only operate from airports that their insurance allows them to operate from. There are only three airports where air ambulances operate from in Zimbabwe, these being Harare, Bulawayo & Victoria Falls. Kariba was one of the airports but apparently no longer.

B) Not all medical conditions are eligible for medical air evacuation. Generally speaking, there are 3 criteria that need to be met before a health insurer will consider paying for an evacuation.

  1. Obviously, the condition must be covered.
  2. Adequate treatment is not available locally.
  3. The condition must be life threatening. (Some insurers include “and/or limb threatening”.)

But that still does not mean you are guaranteed a medical air evacuation …

  1. The aircraft must be available.
  2. The airport must be open.
  3. You must be stable enough to fly which means the treating doctor and the operators of the air ambulance must both agree you are medically stable enough to fly.

Here’s a brief story that may illustrate my point.

I know of someone who had a motorcycle accident and damaged his leg quite badly. It soon became evident by the treating doctors that he required evacuation to South Africa due to the local facilities being sub-standard.

Unfortunately, he lost his leg because there was a huge delay between him being advised that he required to be evacuated to South Africa and him actually being evacuated. After the ordeal, he blamed his health insurance company for the delay and attempted to sue the health insurer.

However, subsequent investigations showed that the delay was due to the doctor not signing his release form because he was not stable enough to fly. Furthermore, the airport had been shut down due to it being late at night and therefore not in operation. Lastly, the closest available aircraft was in Johannesburg and, although given clearance by the insurer to collect the patient, they would not take-off from Johannesburg until the doctor had signed the release form and the airport was operational.

Remember, although your insurer will help co-ordinate the medical air evacuation and pay the costs, they are not responsible for doing the actual evacuation.

I trust the above helps explain how emergency medical air evacuation works.

“Do something today that your future self will thank you for!”

Book a call for;

Get in touch → seansteyn@yoafrica.com or WhatsApp +27(0)797902644

 

AUTHORS’ BIO

Sean Steyn is an independent healthcare consultant with more than 19 years’ experience with local and international health insurance products. Being directly affected in 2001 when he lost a family member to cancer which was not covered in full, he made a moral decision to change his career and dedicate his time to help other people avoid the many pitfalls of finding and owning medical cover. He publishes a complete “Guide To Medical Cover” which you can download from www.medicalcover.co.zw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on

Extend the life of your vehicle’s battery

Car battery as supplied by Big Sky

Your vehicle’s battery works harder in the cold mornings we’re experiencing. But with easy DIY maintenance at home, you can extend the life of your battery and avoid costly replacement.

Here are the most frequently asked questions and answers …

Q1. Why do car batteries go flat if unused?

A typical 12-volt battery discharges naturally at around 0.1 volts per month at 10 degrees Celsius. In warm weather, the discharge rate increases. Additionally, the car’s electrical system draws power even when the car is unused. The rate varies between makes and models but we have heard about cars discharging a healthy battery entirely in under a fortnight.

Q2. Why do you recommend that a 12-volt battery should be kept fully charged?

Lead acid batteries (i.e. flooded, Enhanced Flooded Batteries and Advanced Glass Mat types) prefer to be kept at 90-100% charge (above 12.5 volts), otherwise, they sulphate internally. This reduces their capacity and shortens their lives.

Q3. Can I let the 12-volt battery run flat and simply jump-start the car afterwards?

We do not recommend this strategy. If the battery drains completely, there is a risk that it will never recover. The possibility of permanent failure increases the longer the battery has been left discharged and for how much its state-of-charge has dipped below 12.5 volts.

Q4. Should I start the car and let the engine charge the battery?

No. 12-volt batteries prefer to be charged slowly. The modern car’s charging system is very unlikely to charge the battery fully. This is also true in many day-to-day driving conditions and is a major reason why batteries deteriorate prematurely.

Q5. Is it OK to give my car a run once or twice a week to ensure the battery stays charged and to prevent potentially expensive recovery/repair bills? 

By starting the car, you will have to replenish the charge lost by doing so. Much also depends on how long you leave the car running. Letting a car idle on the drive alone can also cause further issues with the engine, including moisture build in the exhaust/engine oil, particulate filter blocking and spark plug fouling. In any case, likely, relying solely on the car’s charging system alone will not charge the battery to its optimum 90-100% charge. Using a mains-powered battery charger is preferable. 

Lockdown Note: This isn’t classed as an essential journey in the COVID-19 Public Health Order, and if you are stopped by police, you risk being warned or fined for contravening the regulations.

Q6. Should I use a battery charger?

To our knowledge, a battery charger is the only way to charge a car battery to its optimum 90-100% charge. Modern lead-acid batteries are vulnerable to overcharging, which shortens their lives. This is one reason why we recommend smart chargers, rather than old-fashioned trickle chargers. Smart chargers also have different charge setting options for Advanced Glass Mat batteries, used on the latest models.

Q7. Can I connect a smart charger directly to the battery terminals?

Not in every case. Many modern cars (especially those fitted with Start-Stop technology) have a battery monitoring chip on the negative terminal, which can be damaged if connected to an external power source. Consult your handbook for advice for jump-start connection points. Typically, a separate negative terminal post may be mounted to the bodywork.

Q8. Should I disconnect my car battery, when using a smart charger?

Check the advice in your car handbook and the smart charger manual. In our experience, disconnecting the battery is usually unnecessary but check both publications first.

Q9. My car is parked on the road and I cannot get an electricity cable to it. What can I do?

You can disconnect and remove the battery to charge it in your home but be wary that the battery releases hydrogen and oxygen gases during the recharging process, which are explosive. Therefore, ensure that the chosen room is very well ventilated.

Q10. I have a hybrid car, equipped with a high voltage battery. I presume I do not need to worry about keeping it charged?

Hybrids (or, more specifically, Self-Charging Hybrids) have their high voltage systems activated by a separate 12-volt battery. Should this smaller battery be discharged, the car will fail to ‘start’. Therefore, check the car handbook and use a smart charger to maintain the 12-volt battery’s condition.

Q11. I have an electric car. Should I keep it permanently plugged in to the mains during lockdown?

The high-voltage batteries used in Electric Vehicles (and Plug-In Hybrids) use different chemistries. Unlike 12 volt lead-acid batteries, high voltage packs prefer not to be kept fully-charged for long periods. Consult your handbook for more information but, generally, maintain the high voltage battery between 50% and 80% charge level.

See Big Sky for a FREE battery check, and installation while you wait.

Safe motoring,

Tom and the Big Sky Team