WE all remember the saga in which the municipality of Harare foisted upon us a large number of ill-sited billboards. When residents managed to stop this, not to be outdone, the council then went
on to place a large number of totally impractical illuminated, ugly advertising refuse bins on First Street, all of which by the way, have been wrecked.
Then with tenacity exhibited nowhere else within the council, it surreptitiously moved on to its next manic advertising phase, the placing of hundreds of small advertising boards on lamp posts throughout the city and its suburbs, together with numerous other small signs sited most inappropriately on verges, etc.
It’s always a fait acompli, the council’s failure to consult the residents, and clearly a case of showing no concern for the city’s amenities or the environment in general, and certainly no concern shown for the safety of motorists and pedestrians.
It’s interesting to note that despite the overall general decline, highlighted in your Editor’s Memo of November 21, in city services and amenities, the council is determined to press ahead with the project, giving priority to advertising, at the expense of more urgent problems.
There is something very fishy about all this, and bearing in mind the council’s history of corruption involving past and present employees being awarded generous contracts, I believe this is a case in point!
Municipal officials may claim that this is an important revenue raiser. If raising revenue is a priority, why then does the council not spend an equal amount of energy and resources in collecting outstanding parking fines, rates, water payments etc? No, something is clearly amiss!
This whole scenario stinks also of incompetence by the planning department and all those that are supposed to look after the interests and safety of residents.
I ask that a switched-on investigative reporter or two look into the ownership of companies involved and their relations with past and present council employees. I have noticed, for instance, that the vehicles used by the sign erectors don’t have company logos or livery. I find this strange in itself.
I ask the Traffic Safety Council to openly comment if it’s still active and not in a moribund state like so many once important organisations, on this issue. For instance, from a safety point of view, the smaller signs are apt to create greater dangers than the large billboards, as a driver, in order to read the signs, must divert attention for some time to digest the messages.
In addition, many of these signs are placed just centmetres away from traffic lights and official road signs, competing for drivers’ attention. They are also placed at important road junctions and roundabouts, again posing further dangers. Some even hide street name signs.
To me, it is strange and unacceptable that residents fail to take up issues with the council, virtually giving it carte blanche to mess things up at will. Let’s have input from individuals and appropriate organisations (such as the AA) as we did, though somewhat belatedly, with billboards.