The horrific bus accident that claimed the lives of 43 people and seriously injured 24 others near Nyamakate along the Harare-Chirundu highway must jolt the government to abandon its business-as-usual approach in the face of mounting disasters that could otherwise be avoided.
Comment: The Standard Editor
Last week’s accident involved a Zambia-bound King Lion bus that, according to the police, veered off the road as it approached a curve and hit a tree after the driver lost control.
The majority of the passengers died on the spot, demonstrating the severity of the crash.
Preliminary indications from the police and survivors’ accounts of events leading to the horror crash indicate that the accident could be attributed to human error.
Police said the driver must have been speeding, hence he failed to negotiate a curve, a claim corroborated by some of the survivors.
Apparently, the bus was carrying way more than the stipulated number of passengers.
It is given that the bus, which was travelling from Harare, passed through many police roadblocks and was not stopped until the needless loss of lives.
Such accidents bring to question the usefulness of the litany of police roadblocks on the country’s highways when drivers and vehicles that are not fit to be on the road pass freely.
An effective policing system should be able to stop such deadly traffic accidents from occurring.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police must investigate how the King Lion bus, which was allegedly overloaded, travelled all the way to Nyamakate near Karoi, possibly going through several roadblocks.
The Vehicle Inspection Department should also provide proof that the bus was fit enough to be on the road that day.
We say so because corruption has become endemic at these state institutions charged with the mandate to ensure safety of travellers on the roads. Public service transport owners and their drivers are allowed to get away with murder, literally after paying bribes.
In short, the government, through its various agencies, should shoulder the blame for the unnecessary loss of lives through sins of commission and omission.
President Robert Mugabe sent his condolences from New York where he was attending an oceans conference that is irrelevant to Zimbabwe’s immediate challenges.
He did not say how his government intended to stop the carnage on the roads.
Acting-president Emmerson Mnangagwa issued a statement using a familiar government template where fatal road accidents that kill several people have become too common. He had no solutions to the tragedy.
The government moved in to declare the accident a state of disaster, which means that relatives of the victims would be assisted with burial arrangements.
However, that is not enough in a country where more than 1 700 people die in road accidents every year and 90% of those mishaps are attributed to human error.
The government has to move beyond rhetoric and stem the road carnage.
There is a litany of laws in our statutes that can be used to prevent road accidents and the only reason why they are not properly applied is police ineptitude and corruption.
Police have to do their work and remove unfit drivers and vehicles from the country’s roads.
The government also has to do something to address the poor road network that contributes significantly to the needless loss of lives on our roads.