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This chapter gives the background to the deterioration in enforcement of traffic laws of which the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is a case study. The chapter provides the reader with an overview of the research area which include background analysis, statement of the problem, objectives, significance and the boundaries of the study and, delimitations as well as limitations of the study.


Traffic law enforcement has been defined as the area of activity aimed at controlling road user behaviour by preventative, persuasive and punitive measures in order to effect the safe and efficient movement of traffic McGillivray (1989). The importance of traffic law enforcement, as a means of modifying road user behaviour, has been clearly demonstrated by estimates derived in Norway indicating that the elimination of traffic law violations could result in a 20% to 25% reduction in the number of road injury accidents (Ingebrigtsen, 1988; Assum & Ingebrigtsen, 1990). Evans (1991) has suggested that the accident reduction potential of traffic law enforcement may even be much higher at a level closer to 40%.

The actual process of traffic law enforcement has been described by Rothengatter (1990) as consisting of three specific step-wise components. The first is that of legislation which specifies the laws and regulations governing the safe use of the traffic system by road users. The second step is traffic policing to ensure that road users comply with the specified legislation. The final step is that of legal sanctions imposed on the road user when a breach of the legislation has been committed.

All three of these step-wise components play an essential role in determining the impact and effectiveness of a traffic law enforcement system. However, it is the activities associated with the actual policing of traffic laws that are regarded as the central element of an enforcement system. Such activities form the link between the other components of the system, providing the means of regulating compliance with the specified legislation and identifying those road users whose behaviour requires some form of disciplinary action.

The activities associated with traffic policing are also the most visible and interactive aspects of a traffic enforcement system and can often form the basis of public opinion regarding enforcement. The influence that such activities can have on shaping public perception is considered to be an important element in the process of moderating road user behaviour and further highlights the central role of traffic policing within a traffic enforcement system.

Road accidents are a major cause of death in many countries. Estimates indicate that approximately 400,000 people die every year in road accidents around the world. Deaths and injuries caused by road accidents result in significant social and economic costs and it has been estimated that in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, approximately 1-2 per cent of Gross National Product (GNP) is lost every year due to road traffic accidents. Michon (1990) has stated that if traffic volume and road accidents continue increasing at their present rate there will be a global frequency of one serious accident per second, and one fatality per minute by the year 2020.

The need for increased mobility in today’s society has resulted in the development of transportation systems in which the ‘human operator’ is the central element. However, any system which relies on the individual actions, behaviour and needs of many different operators is invariably bound to result in some form of conflict and the role of human error has been well documented as one of the main contributing factors in the majority of road accidents. The magnitude of this problem is reflected in the large amount of road safety research which has focused on attitudinal and behavioural approaches to better understand the relationship between the ‘human operator’ and road accident prevention and causation.

The link between traffic law violations and accident involvement has been frequently made, both at an individual and aggregate level (Evans, 1991). Indeed, it is estimated that by reducing speeding alone a casualty reduction of between 30 and 50% could be effected, while preventing close-following and driver impairment due to drugs or alcohol would further enhance safety (Rothengatter, 1989). Individual tendencies to commit violations are not the concern here; instead this paper will focus on the attempts which have been made to change drivers’ behaviour in general, i.e. at an aggregate level. To this end the paper will review the literature relating to various attempts to increase compliance with the traffic law through enforcement, it will consider various theoretical contexts in which their results might be understood, and will briefly present some very recent empirical work relating to increased compliance, which serves to clarify some of the theoretical issues raised and to specify the limits which may apply to such interventions.

The final and most documented approach to the reduction and prevention of road accidents, and the focus of this review, is that of enforcement. The traffic laws and regulations which specify acceptable road user behaviour are an important element in the development of a safe road environment and it is the enforcement of these laws that is commonly regarded as one of the most effective means of moderating and reinforcing compliant road user behaviour. Enforcement is based upon the assumption that not all road users will adhere to the specified traffic rules and regulations, and may need to be encouraged, educated and persuaded to do so.

The impact of traffic law enforcement on road user behaviour is dependent on a range of factors. The type and frequency of enforcement and public perception of enforcement activities are issues commonly referred to in the literature. Traffic law enforcement can also be an extremely costly exercise and economic and resource allocation issues need to be taken into consideration. As a result of these factors and the need to maximise achievable road safety gains there have been increasing moves in many countries to develop more effective and efficient methods of enforcing road traffic laws.

An analysis of the causes of death in a number of countries throughout the developing countries has shown that deaths and fatalities from road traffic accident in Nigeria rank among the highest in the world and second behind those by hunger and gastroenteritis Adebisi (1988) cited in Balogun (2006). A number of experts have suggested several causes of road traffic accident to broadly include the following: According to Oyeyemi (2003:4), human factors constitute about 80% of the cause of road traffic accidents recorded in the country.

Most drivers have no regards whatever for traffic laws and regulations. They do not observe speed limit any more than they obey traffic signs on the highway without regard on the other road users. They overtake anywhere and anyhow. Nigerian drivers even park parallel on the middle of the road to greet one another or to chat, holding other Traffic to ransom.

In Zimbabwe, road transport laws and regulations are found in Acts of government while the main legal requirements relating to vehicles on the roads are stated in the National Highway Code. From such legal documents, the following tasks of enforcement can be identified:

1.1.1 Preventive Duties. Preventive duties’ goal is to prevent violation of transport laws.

1.1.2 Persuasive Duties. Persuasive duties persuade road users to avoid transport offences.

1.1.3 Punitive Duties. Punitive duties’ goal is to apprehend and punish law offenders.

1.1.4 Regulatory System. According to White, P.R. (1992) a regulatory system is enforceable under specific circumstances for it to benefit the society. This is because poor enforcement of regulations in developing countries is leading to the following among others:

a. Unreliable transport service.

b. Poor vehicle maintenance standards which may affect safety.

c. Poor driving standards which affect safety resulting in traffic congestion and accidents.

d. Violence between operators.

e. Anti-social or dangerous on the – road behaviour.

All these underscore the importance of enforcement of traffic laws in a road transport management system, hence the need to raise the question on the major challenges confronting effective enforcement of traffic laws in the Central Business District (CBD) of Harare.

Harare is the capital and industrial and commercial city of Zimbabwe. It was declared a municipality in 1897and became a city in 1935. Formerly dubbed ‘The Sunshine City’, Harare was affected by the pullout of conventional buses in the provision of transport services in the city. The city experiences a high level of congestion which can be protracted for several hours from the operation of individual operators.

The numerous individual operators use mainly second-hand imported vehicles for public transport. According to the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR 2012), the number of vehicles in the country increased by approximately 6% from 522 682 in 1999 to 973 188 by 2009. Albeit the non-availability of figures by city, it is estimated that about 70% of these vehicles are in Harare. Some illegal operators also took advantage of unmet demand and are plying on short routes. The minibuses and the mushika shikas park willy-nilly blocking other traffic and causing congestion. Consequently, road transport has today become chaotic and unregulated. This situation therefore raises various efficiency and safety concerns. According to Sumaila, AG (2012) such concerns should be addressed generally through an instrument of regulations and control, designed to set operational standards, control the market and regulate transport operating environment. The regulatory and control mechanism makes no meaning if it is not accompanied or backed by enforcement measures.

In summary, the city of Harare is facing grave challenges which inter alia include an increase in population and the number of motor vehicles, a deteriorating transport infrastructure, severe congestion, an inefficient public transport and a high rate of accidents. All these snags have implications on achieving a sustainable transport and hence the need to raise the question on the requirements of achieving sustainable transport for the city.


The study is necessitated by the fact that there was an observed deterioration in the state of enforcing traffic laws in the CBD of Harare over the years. The problems caused by the commuter operators have reached levels where not only basic human rights are violated but also the city is becoming un-navigable. Most of these violations have resulted in accidents caused by human error and mechanical defects of vehicles. Mbara, TC (2015) examined challenges affecting the traffic flow into the CBD of Harare, and focussed his research on road infrastructure and the influx of imported cheap cars in the streets of Harare. There was a lack of exact studies examining the impact of law enforcements on traffic causing accidents and gridlock particularly during peak hour. It was now apparent that convincing and dependable observed data was needed to determine if traffic congestion and accidents in the CBD of Harare was caused by failure of ZRP to enforce traffic laws to curb the traffic jungle.


The study will provide a platform for further research on this topic by the Zimbabwe Staff College (ZSC) or serve as a reference for future studies by other interested bodies of social development. This will go a long way in ascertaining the challenges in enforcement of traffic laws in the CBD of Harare. The ZRP and the City of Harare will use the research to improve on their enforcement methods to help tame the traffic jungle in the CBD of Harare. The study also broadened the researcher and other scholars’ knowledge base on this topic.


The specific objective of the study was:

a. to examine the roles of ZRP in the enforcement of traffic laws in the CBD of Harare;

b. to assess the level of compliance with road traffic laws by motorists and other road users;

c. to identify the challenges faced by ZRP in the enforcement of traffic laws in the CBD of Harare; and

d. to analyse the challenges confronting the ZRP in discharging its duties and proffer recommendations and implementation strategies towards improving the operational standard.


The following were the research questions:

a. What role should ZRP partake on the enforcement of traffic laws in Harare CBD?

b. How are motorists and other road users complying with road traffic laws?

c. What challenges are confronting the ZRP in partaking the role of enforcing road traffic laws in Zimbabwe in Harare CBD?

d. What can the ZRP do to improve on challenges in the enforcement of traffic laws in Harare CBD?


Due to time and resource constraints, the sample of respondents for questionnaires was drawn from Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks. The period covered by the study was from 2013 to date, the period which the CBD of Harare witnessed an influx of commuter omnibuses and pirate taxis. The introduction of the multi currency brought about the advent of commuter omnibuses and illegal pirate taxis “the mushika shikas” in Harare CBD public transport system.


The researcher was doing Joint Command Staff Course Number 31 (JCSC 31) hence time was a constraint which made it difficult to get the opinions of all the potential respondents who included the public sector, the private sector, academia, public transport operators and public transport users. The research was done mainly under difficult conditions, working after hours and on weekends, and convenient samples were employed to cover up for the time constraint. It was also not possible to distribute questionnaires to all the respondents, some questionnaires from respondents were not returned, and self-administered questionnaires and face-to-face interviews were used to collect data from the respondents.


This research paper will be based on the functional, conflict and symbolic theory. The first step to take when developing a campaign is to identify and define the problem. This step also involves selecting partners and stakeholder who should get involved in the work. Having practitioners, researchers, and decision-makers working closely is a major requirement to make the campaign a success. The second step is to analyse the situation, which involves an in-depth analysis of the problem and research carried out to understand the reasons for the target group behaving in an unsafe manner. It is in connection with these steps when the use of a theoretical model becomes important.

1.9 Summary

In this section of the study, the area of the research was highlighted. Pertinent questions were laid down and squarely matched to the objectives. The limitations and delimitations to the study were also stated.




In this chapter, the writer is set to review literature related to the research problems and the objectives of the study. The chapter will discuss traffic rules and compliance, strategy for legislation and enforcement, some theories inform the subject, spin around a little bit on violations and punishments and their effects on deterrence and exploring how they bring up to date the current research. In order to have a clearer picture, the researcher has surveyed existing literature in order to gather relevant information from the findings of similar studies pertaining to challenges faced by the Police in enforcing traffic laws in urban cities.


According to ETSC, (2011), Traffic regulations address the mutual relationship between road users and their surroundings. They are aimed at promoting the safe and smooth flow of traffic on roads. Unconscious violation of rules should be addressed by road and vehicle design, but conscious breaking of rules must be addressed through police enforcement.

Two broad philosophical perspectives apply when it comes to law enforcement. The instrumental perspective builds on the deterrence, where the fear of being sanctioned is regarded as the central mechanism for avoiding certain behaviour. In other words, people are motivated by gains, losses, rewards and sanctions related to obeying or disobeying the law. Increasing the likelihood and severity of sanction is then viewed as an effective way of increasing compliance. The normative perspective emphasises the role of social norms, embedded in society. It assumes that people tend to behave in a way that is compatible with common social understanding. Sanction as a mechanism for getting people to obey the rules has a much greater effect when that sanction is compatible with the norms, values and the sense of justice held by the citizens themselves.

With regard to conditions for traffic rule compliance Noordzij (1976) identified five conditions that traffic laws must fulfil. The law should: be easy to understand for all road users; be easy to follow; not be in contradiction or conflict with other laws; not be in conflict with situational prerogatives; make it easy to identify any violation of the law. Moreover, traffic laws have to be known and accepted by road users. However, knowledge about traffic rules is a necessary but not sufficient condition for compliance.

According to Mäkinen, T. ; Zaidel, D. (2003), Traffic Law Compliance Model, legislation and enforcement first create an objective risk of detection of traffic offenders. The objective risk is the actual risk of detection, i.e. it reflects the real likelihood of detection caused by the actual level of traffic surveillance activities by e.g. the police. The objective risk has an impact on drivers’ perception of the possibility of getting caught for traffic violations (i.e. the subjective risk). The subjective risk of detection is the drivers’ own more or less conscious and less explicit judgement of the possibility of getting caught for infringements. It results from the road user’s perception of the intensity of enforcement-related activities. This subjective risk can be influenced by supportive measures such as media or communication campaigns. The subjective risk of detection is of greater importance for compliance than the subjective sanction severity.

Traffic Compliance Model adapted Mäkinen, T. & Zaidel, D. (2003)

As regards the subjective severity of sanctions, Schlag (2009) states that the subjective sanction severity follows a certain hierarchy: monetary fines – penalty points – temporarily driving ban – permanent licence revocation. Most commonly, monetary fines are accepted by drivers. Schlag (2009) refers to findings from Germany that show that many drivers commit speeding offences up to a certain speed threshold (i.e. ? 20 km/h over the limit). In case of detection, offences below this threshold are only sanctioned with monetary fines and not by penalty points.

Moreover, the link between detection of the offence and sanction has to be sufficiently clear in order to have any deterrent effect. This argument of immediacy of sanction has been described in studies regarding the psychology of learning. When too much time passes between violation and sanction, the link between both is extremely vague and no immediate effect can be expected because of a diminution in the subjective, perceived risk.

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