I think twice whenever I plan to have a journey out of the city centre. Although my vehicle is fully licensed in accordance with the country’s road regulations, I still fear to travel. Despite having a spare wheel, wheel spanner, jack and fire extinguisher the police will still find fault with my car.
What worries me most is the number of roadblocks I encounter on way to any destination out of the city centre.
Police roadblocks are found at least every ten kilometres. It is rare for one to pass through any of the roadblock without being stopped and asked for a bribe. Needless to say, they do not issue a road traffic offence ticket but ask for a “small” amount.
There is a new and accepted language spoken at these road blocks. You could hear them saying “So you just want us to leave you without leaving anything?” This was a real comment which I heard after a driver had apologised even though he had committed no offence.
In fact, Zimbabwe motorists have to budget in enough surplus cash to accommodate traffic cops and their demands.
There are some smart drivers who having resisted paying bribes find themselves spending long hours parked at roadblocks. More often than not, their frustrations brought on by the ‘busy’ road traffic cops who do not have time to attend to the driver who refuses to pay the bribe, ends up giving into to corruption.
The same story happens over and over when one visits a police station to report a case. One ends up being treated like the accused. Police officers do not pay attention, they rather instruct you to bring the accused person instead of them investigating the case. It only you offer them “something” that you can get their service.
That is the police force of Zimbabwe.