Univern in major traffic management deal

HARARE - Technology firm Univern Enterprises (Univern)’s stock continues to rise as it has been contracted by the Zimbabwean government to automate the country’s transport management systems, including vehicle registry and ensuring compliance with traffic laws.

This also comes as the locally-owned company’s decade-old private public partnership with the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) has seen increased revenue for the roads manager by up to 300 percent.

As such, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo has since signed a November 2016 memorandum of understanding with Univern for the establishment an electronic traffic management system (ETMS) to not only reduce the number of police roadblocks on national roads, but curb corruption and enforce compliance with road regulations.

“The major aim of this system is to improve service delivery through the provision of transparent and accountable traffic enforcements, curb vehicle theft, bring sanity to our roads..,” he recently said, in addition to his parliamentary remarks that he was “aware of complaints over the number of check points and the often questionable behaviour of police officers manning these roadblocks”, which have also been described as excessive.

“Links to the sub-regional police database on stolen motor vehicles will now be possible through linkage with the Interpol (1-24/7) communication system. We believe that once this system is fully operational, the number of roadblocks will be greatly reduced and most of the concerns from the general public will be addressed,” Chombo said.

For many in government and at Southern Regional Trading Company, it is believed that these technology deployments are not only key in bringing about efficiency in the recording of accidents, generation of dockets and compilation of data, but public-sector electronic interfaces always help in the elimination of corruption.

Under the ETMS deal, Univern would undertake the construction of a traffic hub, call centre and integration of all policing systems, Home Affairs secretary Melusi Machiya says.

Chombo, meanwhile, stressed that the integrated computer solutions would provide linkages between the vehicle theft squad and several other entities under the Ministry of Transport such as the Vehicle Inspection Department, and those targeted under the Zimbabwe Transport Information System.

Additionally, the system would also provide synergies – and interaction – between mobile patrol units, traffic stations, ports of entry, tollgates and enable online-queries for the verification of statuses of suspect vehicles.

On its part, the Zimbabwe Republic Police has said the ETMS was key in transforming policing processes and the reduction of road blocks, which have also seen or elicited bitter complaints from the motoring public and tourists.

While company chief executive Serge Levy said he was confident the venture would ensure increased accountability in the transport sector, Parliament's portfolio committee on transport chairperson Dexter Nduna also said these new technologies would revolutionarise policing in the country.

The envisaged programme also comes as the Harare administration has been desperate to improve other facets of its policy regime such as the ease of doing business in the country.

Apart from the ETMS project, Univern has also cooperated with many departments in President Robert Mugabe’s government such as the supply of 80 high-end motorised graders for several rural district councils nationwide, the computerisation of radio licensing fee collection and managing some of Zinara’s toll plazas, among other laudable PPPs.

To this end, the Workington-based firm has also been engaged in key talks with quite a number of big municipalities such as Harare with a view of establishing relationships for enhancing their revenue collection functions.

Under its Zinara partnership, for instance, Univern's information technology and infrastructural backbone is in use at over 300 sites.

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