Motorists and other members of the public have raised concern over the high number of road blocks during the festive season arguing they negatively affect tourism. The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has increased roadblocks on the country’s highways to reduce carnage, but the high number of check points has been criticised as being excessive and discouraging to tourists from neighbouring countries.
Bulawayo South MP Eddie Cross, who raised concerns over the issue in parliament on Wednesday last week, told the Zimbabwe Independent that increased roadblocks discourage tourists coming by road from neighbouring countries, particularly Botswana and South Africa.
“I don’t think it is a secret that people are reluctant to visit the country because of those inconveniences,” Cross said.
“Tourists mainly affected are those with Botswana and South African number plates. The number of roadblocks is outrageous.”
He said the demands made by the police manning roadblocks were numerous and did not have links to road safety, adding the roadblocks represented a “parallel tax system” and a pretext for police corruption, especially bribery and extortion .
Cross said this also generated anxiety among drivers using the country’s roads in transit. Economist John Robertson said a meeting he attended recently revealed that there are at least 20 roadblocks between Beitbridge and the resort town of Victoria Falls.
“The number of roadblocks will discourage tourists from South Africa. The tourists are already discouraged by the weakening of the South African rand, which makes Zimbabwe expensive. On top of that is the 15% VAT (imposed on payments for accommodation and tourism services by foreign visitors),” Robertson said. He said the problem of roadblocks was not confined to the country’s major highways, but also within the city centre. Robertson said this week he had encountered an average of four roadblocks travelling from Milton Park to Borrowdale.
“The amount of money lost by discouraging tourists with so many roadblocks far outweighs the money gained through fines,” Robertson said.
The concern come at a time the ZRP has deployed 45 000 officers to man major highways and conduct street patrols.