'Lenient' cops fuel deadliest festive toll

HARARE - For many motorists, Zimbabwean police are getting tougher with each passing day, with roadblocks mounted at almost every street corner.

But statistics from their headquarters suggest otherwise, showing that officers issued relatively  less tickets to offending motorists during the past season despite a massive accident toll.

Police say during the past festive season they issued fewer tickets compared to last year and results are there to show.

By the end of the festive season on January 15, 260 deaths had been recorded in road accidents, compared to 140 registered during the same period last year despite the increased presence of police roadblocks, which were at times manned by senior officers.

In 2011, police issued 163 410 tickets for various road regulation violations while in 2012 the figure was a mere 19 628.

National police spokesperson Andrew Phiri named corruption, a bad road network, human error and an increase in traffic volumes as major accelerators of road carnage which was 120 higher than in 2011.

“We suspect corruption, an increase in traffic flow which is not complimented by an improvement in the state of our roads.

“We have an increase in the number of vehicles compared to last year but our roads have not been improved,” said Phiri.

“We also think that there are so many unlicensed drivers on our roads who don’t have experience and some who have licences but not properly acquired because of corruption taking place at VID (Vehicle Inspection Department),” said Phiri.

According to the police, during the entire festive holidays, a total of 1 872 accidents were recorded countrywide up from last year’s 1 770.

Notwithstanding the all-time high death toll, police impounded only 1 096 vehicles, a reduction from 3154 vehicles seized last year for various defects.

“The reason why we have less vehicles impounded is because we had few roadblocks compared to last year. It is also a reason to the increased number of deaths experienced this year,” Phiri told the Daily News.

Phiri attributed the continued use of unregistered private vehicles as public transporters to the high number of accident.

“From our analysis, we have a number of single accidents killing many people. We take an example of the Manicaland accident involving a lorry which killed 18 people on the spot,” he said. - Xolisani Ncube

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