By Nqobile Tshili
A number of intersections in Bulawayo have become potential blackspots for motorists due to tall grass that reduces visibility.
Drivers have urged the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to slash tall grass along the road to prevent road traffic accidents, among other hazards.
In separate interviews, motorists said the situation is so bad that one has to literally drive through an intersection to see whether there is traffic coming from the other side.
This, they said, was dangerous because there was little margin for safety if another car was coming from the other direction.
The grass is affecting visibility, especially around curves and intersections of most feeder roads in residential areas.
The Chronicle has observed that tall grass near the side road along Luveve Road and the Luveve Police Station turn-off makes it hard for motorists to properly see the road ahead.
The Queenspark roundabout is no longer visible due to the long grass and the situation is even worse with narrow feeder roads.
Some of the road signs are even covered by the tall grass and shrubs.
The situation is almost the same across the city as motorists and the drivers said they are forced not to stop at Stop or Give Way signs as demanded by the law.
Mr Mlungisi Sibanda from Mpopoma suburb said it has become difficult driving in Bulawayo’s roads due to the tall grass.
“It won’t be surprising to witness an upsurge in road traffic accidents caused by the tall grass. You have to be extra cautious as you drive because you have to navigate through potholes as well as deal with tall grass which obstructs your view. Sometimes you miss a road sign as a result of the tall grass and it’s time council starts slashing the grass,” said Mr Sibanda.
Farmers who have religiously harvested grass for stockfeed after council teams have cut it along roads, say they are running out of time because the local authority has been late this year.
Renowned historian Mr Pathisa Nyathi who usually harvests grass said he was also waiting for council to start cutting the grass.
“I was just talking about it one of these days that the grass is now overgrown. But what I usually do is that I wait for council to cut the grass, but I haven’t seen the council cutting the grass so far. So, we will just wait for the council to cut the grass and start harvesting it and this time we will have a good harvest as there is plenty of grass,” said Mr Nyathi.
Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) acting director of operations Mr Ernest Muchena urged road authorities to swiftly start grass cutting.
“With the heavy rains that we are receiving in the country and the region, the TSCZ has noted that there is a lot of tall grass that is growing on the side of the roads. We would like to advise all motorists to ensure that they exercise extreme caution.
“When they arrive at an intersection, they should also be able to stop and check both sides in case a car can emerge from the other side. In other priority roads that are not controlled by Give Way or Stop Sign, they should reduce speed and exercise caution because the driver coming from a Stop or Give Way sign may not be visible and this may result in a collision,” said Mr Muchena.
He said even along the highways where there are few intersections, tall grass remains a road hazard.
“We have also noted that along the highways a lot of tall grass is growing and this may result in wild and domestic animals suddenly emerging from the tall grass thereby causing road traffic accidents. We would like to appeal to road authorities, local authorities and town councils to ensure that they cut the grass regularly during the rainy season,” he said.
Mr Muchena commended some communities for taking a proactive role by cutting the grass instead of waiting for councils.
Africa’s Roads for Life ambassador Mr Tatenda Chinoda concurred with Mr Muchena.
“The tall grass near intersections prevents drivers from seeing each other,” said Mr Chinoda.
BCC senior public relations Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said the local authority has started grass cutting but is facing challenges in effectively rolling out the programme.
“The smooth implementation of the programme is being affected and delayed by a number of challenges that council is facing. Council is facing challenges in maintaining tractors used to cut the grass.
We only have one tractor operating out of the 10 that are supposed to be used to cut grass,” said Mrs Mpofu. The Chronicle