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Editorial Comment: Govt must improve on disaster preparedness

The death of 42 people who perished in a bus inferno on Thursday night is shocking and painful. People who were probably fast asleep were woken by an explosion accompanied by fire which immediately engulfed the bus.

Editorial Comment

According to reports, all the deceased, except maybe one woman who was found dead outside the bus, were burnt alive — many of them beyond recognition.
The manner in which they met their death is too ghastly to contemplate.

The tragedy occurred at around 11pm near West Nicholson in Matabeleland South and we are told that rescue services arrived at the scene hours after the accident when the fire had died down. Images of the tragic horror showed skeletal remains of charred bodies inside the bus shell.

Because such accidents can never be foreseen, it is necessary that measures be taken to ensure availability of swift reaction to disasters such as these, especially along major highways. The civil protection unit needs more funding to enable it to react with speed and effectively in order to save lives.

In many cases people end up watching helplessly as lives are lost where expert action would have saved lives. There is no doubt that had rescuers used air transport like helicopters, many lives could have been saved in the West Nicholson inferno and the Rusape bus crash and many other disasters before them.

We also urge public transporters and bus crews to always treat their business with utmost care and concern and to abide by road and other rules that govern their business. For example, gas tanks should never be allowed in the interior of public transport and this should be public knowledge. The major reason being that they are likely to explode in the event of a bus accident or may, as may have been the case here, leak and cause fire.

Other rules pertain mostly to drivers of public transport who are required by law to respect speed and load limits, use of lights, overtaking procedures and other regulations. Failure to observe traffic regulations has resulted in needless loss of many lives, especially during the festive season, which is approaching.

Many people have been plunged into mourning during the festive season when carelessness obliterates the festive spirit.

Sudden death is difficult to deal with and destroys many lives of those that remain. Death of any kind is painful, but sudden death is horrendous.
Accidents are the major cause of sudden death and the painful thing about them is that in many cases they are avoidable. This is why we urge government to take measures to minimise the occurrence of accidents and also to put in place effective reaction enablers.

But while defective vehicles, human error, fatigue, speed and drunken driving are major causes of road fatalities, the state of roads in Zimbabwe is a constant cause of concern. Authorities appear concerned only when they speak about intent to rehabilitate our highways, but no action is taken.

A case in point is the Beitbridge-Chirundu highway which has died literally at the hands of corruption, greed and political grandstanding. It appears that all political leaders, right from the very top, want to benefit personally from that major project and, meanwhile, people continue to die.

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