Preparations for the Christmas holiday got into full swing yesterday with police introducing 24-hour roadblocks on major routes countrywide as part of measures to curb road carnage during the festive period.
Other units were deployed to the Harare International Airport and hotels in the city, among other areas, to protect tourists from criminals.
This came as merry-makers travelled to various destinations to avoid the last-minute rush on Tuesday.
Those travelling from South Africa to Zimbabwe found the going at Beitbridge Border Post relatively easy, thanks to an efficient clearing system that saw huge volumes of travellers pass through the port of entry promptly.
In Harare, those travelling to their respective rural homes cried foul as most bus operators hiked fares by more than 100 percent.
Shops also opened early and closed late as businesspeople sought to cash in on the holiday bonanza.
National Traffic police spokesperson Inspector Tigere Chigome yesterday said the 24-hour roadblocks were specifically targeted at reducing accidents. He said the force has also embarked on a campaign to educate the public on road safety.
“Reducing accidents is everyone’s responsibility. We have mounted roadblocks on all highways where thorough inspections will be conducted,” he said.
“There are two motorbikes and a minimum of six police officers at every roadblock.“We have also involved other stakeholders such as church bishops, commuter omnibus operators, the Vehicle Inspection Department and the City of Harare in the awareness campaign.
“We started the programme on December 2; it will end as soon as the festive period comes to a close.”Insp Chigome urged all motorists to pull off the road during heavy downpours and when using cellular phones.
He also emphasised the need to avoid drunk driving. Meanwhile, holiday travellers were yesterday stranded at major bus stops around Harare after long distance transport operators hiked fares for selected routes
The Simon Mazorodze roundabout (popularly known as Kumbudzi)and the Show Grounds were a “hive of activity” as travellers jostled to catch the cheapest transport. The situation was, however, different at Mbare Bus Terminus where travellers opted for the available buses in spite of the exorbitant fares. A trip to Mutare, which normally costs US$6 was yesterday pegged at US$15 while a trip to Rusape cost US$10 up from US$4.
One travelling to Gutu forked out US$15 instead of the usual US$9. Transport operators said the hikes were necessitated by “rising operational costs”.
Holiday-makers travelling from South Africa were all smiles as both human and vehicle traffic at the usually-congested Beitbridge Border Post was cleared within a short period.
Assistant Regional Immigration Officer (Beitbridge) Mr Charles Gwede said the department suspended leave and off days for staff to ensure efficient service.