Zim roads now death traps

HARARE - In every 15 minutes an accident occurs on the country’s roads, that have now become death traps, and the situation is not helped by the fact that Zimbabwe has a serious shortage of ambulances.

Officials revealed the grim statistics last week as they graphically described how people are dying on the roads almost on a weekly basis unattended to, with no help as most towns are not serviced by ambulances.

Not surprisingly, at least 2 000 people die each year from road accidents, according to Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).

That Zimbabwe’s roads are in a poor state of repair, after years of neglect and the collapse of the country’s infrastructure has made a bad situation even worse.

“There are no ambulances from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls, none in Beitbridge, Chiredzi, it is not enough,” said Zimbabwe Ambulance Operators official Doug Mahiya.

“The public still needs to be educated on the issue of ambulances because there is a high number of ambulances being hit whilst offering emergency services,” he added.

Paramedics who did not wish to be named on Wednesday at a Traffic Safety Council (TSCZ) of Zimbabwe dinner said patients are dying simply because ambulances were not adequate.

“Patients are coming to serious harm and even dying because of long ambulance delays and a shortage of vehicles.”

With our economy in intensive care many ambulance providers have folded and the few that are left are ill-equipped to meet the demand.

A snap survey by the Daily News on Sunday showed that most of the ambulance companies are based in major cities with people living in rural areas left to die because there is no service.

For patients without medical aid, most private ambulances charge anything around $40 within Harare and $80 in Harare’s dormitory towns.

Observers say the fees are beyond the reach of a population living on an average of $3 a day according to ZimStat statistics released earlier this month and an average of less than $1,90 according to World Bank.

In rural parts of the country villagers have resorted to use wheelbarrows for ambulances to ferry pregnant women to hospitals for delivery in a bid to reduce maternal mortality.
Harare City Council(HCC)
insisted that they still have a vibrant emergency service system despite the authority being accused of failing to respond on time and turning up at fire scenes without water.
“We have 10 functional ambulances,” HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme said.
“Our response times are five to 10 minutes within the environs of the Central Business District, and 30 to 50 minutes in the greater Harare. Standard response time is 10 minutes.”
Chideme admitted the authority’s emergency services were not enough.
“Standard recommended fleet for our population is 50-60 ambulances minimum. Our rates are $20.”
Apart from emergency services needing urgent resuscitation, stakeholders believe human error accounts for 94 percent of road carnage.
Kombis have been blamed for flouting traffic regulations whilst scenes of touts precariously hanging at the back of overloaded pre-owned Japanese cars have become the order of the day in Harare as well as other major urban centres in the country.
However, Greater Harare Commuter Operators (Ghaco) believe it will need all drivers to put hands on deck to make Zimbabwe’s roads safe.
“If we want safety on our roads it’s not only the pre-requisite of commuter omnibus drivers to have defensive driving certificates because they will be five cars at intersections.
“Our commuter omnibuses ferry almost three million people in Harare alone per day. Unfortunately there are no regulations being imposed on commuter omnibus owners making them unaccountable to anyone,” said Ghaco secretary general Ngoni Katsvairo.
Ghaco also implored passengers to exercise their right to safe travel.
“Commuter omnibuses must carry 16 people. It’s up to a passenger to make a conscious decision that ‘I won’t board a commuter omnibus if it already has 16 people inside.’ Refuse to be the 17th person,” he said.
Automobile Association of Zimbabwe representative Tinaye Jacob said one of the major reasons Zimbabwe had become a traffic jungle was that responsible authorities are shortchanging the society.
Commuter omnibus operators and illegal transporters are often accused of paying bribes to the law enforcement agents to ensure their free passage even with defective vehicles.
“Most of the times the police are fanning road carnage by falling to apply the law which they swore to uphold.
“Surely why should an unroadworthy vehicle be allowed to continue ferrying passengers, being let to pass after paying a fine, surely such vehicles should be impounded. We continue to witness the traffic police chasing after commuter omnibuses instead of just apprehending them at holding bays,” said Jacob.
Currently, TSCZ is seized with various road safety campaigns to try and ameliorate the situation, offering defensive driving certificates, road safety talks, mass media campaigns and educational roadblocks.
TSCZ spokesman Ernest Muchena said they were mulling rest stops along the country’s major highways as a way to
ensure safety on the roads.
“You need to rest at a lay-by after every 200 kilometres. Unfortunately most lay-bys are now ambush points for thugs and thieves. That is why we are proposing rest stops along the highways to curb road accidents,” he said.

Comments (1)

Our economy is also dying on the side of the road with no ambulance while the hyenas pick it clean.

Amazzed - 10 November 2015

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