Lawlessness on the streets must end

City Parking, which oversees parking in the city, is powerless as the menacing parking barons reap where they did not sow.

PARKING barons are thriving on Harare’s streets with council losing millions which should have been deployed to service delivery.

The barons block parking bays, charge motorists and pocket the proceeds.

They use the money to buy illicit beer and drugs. 

An investigation by NewsDay showed that the barons have taken parking bays along Harare’s busiest roads such as Nelson Mandela, Jason Moyo, George and Silundika avenues, and Chinhoyi Street, among others.

These barons terrorise motorists who refuse to pay them. City Parking, which oversees parking in the city, is powerless as the menacing parking barons reap where they did not sow.

The situation is getting out of hand and there are fears City Parking will soon be driven off the streets.

If this should not jolt authorities to action, then nothing will. One cannot just wake up and start collecting money from motorists. It only happens in societies that are broken and where it is a free-for-all. Very soon these barons will have the guts to erect barricades on the streets to extort money from motorists.

Harare City Council has municipal police that should flush out these parking barons from the streets. The municipal police officers instead go for the easiest target — vendors, pirate taxis and commuter omnibuses that operate from undesignated points.

If they were to exert the same pressure on parking barons, they would disappear from our streets.

Harare cannot attain world-class city status if this lawlessness is allowed to flourish. It cannot return to its former sunshine status if it cannot drive parking barons from the streets.

The city has by-laws that must be followed to the letter.

This lawlessness must stop and the long arm of the law must reach these people.

Council should descend heavily on the barons who are creating chaos in the central business district. It can enlist the services of the Zimbabwe Republic Police if it does not have enough manpower.

However, it must be underscored that the parking barons have godfathers and godmothers who protect them. We have touts and rank marshals collecting money from kombis and pirate taxis. These marshals pay protection fees so that they carry out their nefarious activities unbridled.

They can be traced to a certain political party, which is the home of all shades of barons — from land barons to cash barons, then space barons and now parking barons.

During the day, leaders in that political party castigate local authorities for failing to end the chaos in the cities. At night, the organisers of the chaos will be pampering their political godmothers and godfathers after a “fruitful” day of extorting money from vendors and motorists.

Council spokesperson Stanley Gama said the local authority would this week launch a blitz to flush out parking barons. We support council in this exercise and hope that it has the spine as such an exercise will unmask the midwives of these parking barons.

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