By Hazvinei Mwanaka
Zimbabwe’s southern city of Masvingo has been commended for installing solar traffic lights in the city thereby reducing accidents at an intersection that had become a black spot.
Masvingo had two traffic lights near the police station and Edgars Stores before installation of the solar ones at the corner of Robert Mugabe Way and Leopold Takawira.
Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (MURRA) spokesperson, Godfrey Mtimba, hailed the solar traffic lights as a great move by the city council.
“The ravaging and law breaking commuter buses and zvipipipi (pirate taxis) are now under control as the traffic lights are always working and … effective. We applaud … the council The place had turned out to be a bad spot, but since this move took place we have seen a reduction in the number of accidents,” he said.
He, however, urged the city fathers to install more solar traffic lights to improve the road network in the city.
Masvingo Mayor, Hubert Fidze, concurred with MURRA adding they have plans to install more solar lights in the city.
“Of course we need more and more solar traffic lights, and we have budgeted for one which should be installed at the intersection of Robert Mugabe Way and Simon Mazorodze Road very soon,” he said.
Solar energy is an environmentally friendly and sustainable source of energy that can mitigate against the country’s current power shortages as they ensure constant power supplies to traffic lights.
Since solar energy is abundant in the country, energy experts believe local authorities can take advantage of this and install solar traffic lights that are cheaper to maintain.
Mr Wellington Madumira, project officer with ZERO Environmental Organisation, said solar lighting is safe and environmentally friendly.
“There is no wiring required and installation is very easy and cost-free. You do not have to worry about electricity bills,” he said.
He, however, highlighted that the initial investment cost is higher compared to conventional street lights and at a higher risk of theft as the equipment is attractive to thieves.
An energy consultant, Hilton Chingosho, said solar traffic lights are very effective.
“Since solar traffic lights are powered entirely by the sunlight they receive each day, operating times will vary depending on specific location, daily weather conditions and seasons,” he said.