The Big Sky Guide to Surviving the Traffic Jungle in Zimbabwe
The Big Sky Survival Guide to the Traffic Jungle is intended to protect motorists from the daily hazards encountered on our roads. Read on for advice and where to find the resources to be prepared for the traffic jungle …
Table of Contents
TAME THE TRAFFIC JUNGLE
By now we are all familiar with the term “Tame the Traffic Jungle”. The strongly worded statement from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) issued in April 2023 was the first real indication that the State was aware of the deteriorating behaviour on our roads. In September 2023 we saw the launch of operation “Tame the Traffic Jungle”, with ZRP recording well over 100,000 arrests within a month.
The “Tame the Traffic Jungle” operation is to be encouraged, especially considering the Mission statement: “To bring sanity to the Country’s city and rural roads …”. If the various organisations involved with the operation carry out their mandate fairly and in accordance with the Road Traffic Act, etc., they should be supported.
However, the operation will have virtually no effect on modifying driver behaviour. Errant motorists will feel some short-term pain during the operation however the psychology behind the driving behaviour will remain unchanged. (How to positively influence driver behaviour is a subject for another time).
The operation has unfortunately created opportunities for mischievous members of ZRP and other enforcement agencies to solicit bribes. The Business Times wrote about this on 21.09.23, here https://businesstimes.co.zw/exposed-corrupt-cops-cash-in-on-blitz/
The law-abiding motorist therefore faces hazardous encounters with uniformed individuals at the roadside, and with ill-disciplined motorists who continue to defy the Highway Code (or have simply never opened a copy).
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FEEL YOU ARE BEING TREATED UNFAIRLY
Remain calm and patient. Deep breathing reduces feelings of fear or panic.
Be prepared. Carry provisions in your car. Water, wet towelettes, spray bottles.
If you are driving with children, pre-arrange that there is someone you can call who can collect your children and remove them from the situation.
Exercise your right to phone or message for assistance. Save ZRP Hotline Numbers in your phone under ICE (In Case of Emergency). Do it! We know of many motorists who have been successfully assisted over the phone.
To resolve an issue at a ZRP checkpoint, start by asking to speak to the Member in Charge at the checkpoint. If unsuccessful, request that the matter be dealt with at the local Police Station. You drive your vehicle and remember it is entirely up to you whether any ZRP members travel in the vehicle with you.
At the Police Station request to meet with the Commanding officer or Officer in Charge, with whom you will present your case in a calm manner. Very often this approach will result in the motorist being let off with a caution, or the charge reduced to a logical and reasonable outcome.
Finally, remember that your own attitude and behaviour has a direct influence on the outcome at a ZRP checkpoint. Display the same polite behaviour that you expect to receive and nine times out of ten the encounter will be peaceful and amicable.
CONNECT WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
WhatsApp groups have become an essential platform to connect with our community, and the popularity of the “traffic groups” confirms this. If you find yourself in a difficult situation, reach out to your community, whether it’s on your traffic group, your local resident’s group, or an emergency/security group.
If it’s at a realistic hour, from experience you can be guaranteed to get a response to an appeal for help.
HOW TO IDENTIFY IF A ZRP TRAFFIC CHECKPOINT IS LEGITIMATE
A Security Roadblock:
• Is static, in one position
• Will make use of barricades and signs
• Is manned by a minimum of five personnel
A Traffic Blitz:
• Is roving, not restricted to one position
• Will not usually display any signs
• Motorcycle – A minimum of two personnel
• On foot – A minimum of three personnel
• Car – A minimum of two personnel
It is mandatory for ZRP members to carry identification cards, and wear name badges.
It is mandatory for ZRP members on duty to be in possession of reflective clothing (sleeves, vests, etc.) If the activity necessitates, not necessarily wearing reflective clothing but it is to hand.
INSTALL A DASHBOARD CAMERA
Unprofessional mischief usually occurs where the offending ZRP member feels he/she cannot be identified. A dashboard camera, or “dash cam” immediately overcomes this perception. As we saw during the roadblock era, motorists using a dash cam experienced less harassment and greater respect.
However, if you use a dash cam it is essential that you know how to use it, ESPECIALLY the ability to replay the footage, on request!
For more on why we believe a dash cam has become essential equipment and Big Sky’s solution, read here https://bigsky.co.zw/dash-cameras-essential-equipment-zimbabwe/
HOW TO AVOID A CAR INVASION
The current clampdown by ZRP, VED, Municipal Police and others on dangerous driving and out-of-control kombi’s and mashika’shikas, has created opportunities for rogue members of ZRP, and often just imposters, to harass motorists. The standard modus operandi is threatening a court appearance and impounding of the vehicle as evidence, etc. – all to extort a bribe.
Read here for tips that will reduce the likelihood of a car invasion and get you through the experience OK, including useful “In Case of Emergency” numbers https://bigsky.co.zw/avoiding-or-dealing-with-a-car-hijacking-mugging-smashgrab/
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 on cell/WhatsApp 0772 320 090.
Anti-smash and grab tinting is the best defence against a “smash and grab” attack. The film creates an invisible barrier that slows access to the vehicle, giving you more time to escape. In the event of an accident the film holds broken glass in one place and shields occupants from flying shards of glass.
For professional supply and fitment, we recommend one of our volunteers in the Radio Removal Campaign for Senior Citizens https://bigsky.co.zw/radio-removal-campaign/ Mohammed and his Audiocity Team have been real champions during the Campaign and are at 117 King George Road, Avondale. Cell/WhatsApp 0776 243 484.
For peace of mind when commuting around town and inter-city travel …
Is the statutory equipment in your vehicle compliant? This includes fire extinguishers, the correct number of warning triangles, GVM decals, reflectors, etc. The full list can be found in the Cubbyhole Notes and our experienced staff are available to assist.
Questions can be emailed to email@example.com or WhatsApp 0775 440 037.
Visit Big Sky for a free ZRP Compliance Check. This is particularly recommended for newly imported, or vehicles purchased in the last couple of years from a local dealer. Dealers had become increasingly complacent towards compliance and a very large number of vehicles are simply not compliant, in respect of reflectors, GVM information, etc.
Invest time to visit the Officer Commanding at the police station a troublesome ZRP checkpoint is operating from. Request his/her name, rank and cell number. Every region has a TRAFFIC DISPOL, who has overall responsibility for traffic policing within his/her region. Request his/her name, rank, and cell number.
Store both contacts in your phone. Mention these names to the members at the problem checkpoint and you’ll almost always see an attitude adjustment for the better.
KNOW THE LAW, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Facebook group DearZRP has around 49,000 members and an abundance of information. Created in 2016 to assist motorists dealing with misbehaving ZRP Traffic, there is very little that hasn’t already been experienced by members.
To get the most out of the group, use the Search function and look through the Files tab.
(DearZRP is a closed group however the Admins will process join requests – just answer four straightforward questions).
The Big Sky Cubbyhole Notes were published in March 2017 and the legislation covered in the publication remains valid, only the ZWL fines have changed.
Covering vehicle registration and licensing, moving offenses, statutory equipment, vehicle livery (reflectors, etc.), emergency equipment, vehicle construction, and use of roads and vehicles, this is the only publication in Zim which explains and makes sense of traffic legislation to prepare you for roadside debates.
Company drivers will also benefit greatly from having a copy in the cubbyhole.
The CubyHole Notes are available in Big Sky’s Pomona store for USD 5 and we also deliver countrywide.
Find a large number of useful documents available to download for free from https://bigsky.co.zw/category/roads-traffic/ Section.
Sections include vehicle registration and licensing, visitors and regional travel, vehicle construction and equipment (with the Big Sky Trailer Guide), driver’s licenses, ZBC regulations, and other general information.
In conclusion, please share this information with the vulnerable members of your family and community – especially your youngsters and senior family members.
Sean Q. and the Big Sky Team