Time to change tack on accidents

HARARE - It is disconcerting that despite repeated efforts to curb road carnage, Zimbabwe’s roads continue to claim lives due to a number of reasons, chief among them drink-driving and speeding.

While it is a travesty of justice that motorists pay road fees and other forms of tax yearly yet they drive on badly damaged roads which government and relevant departments don’t bother to fix — this must not be used as an excuse for the hundreds of lives that continue to be lost on the country’s highways.

Human life should be held sacrosanct and measures need to be taken to put to an end the many accidents that are avoidable but sadly, caused by either reckless drivers or defective motor vehicles.

Isn’t it jarring to have as many as 106 accidents recorded in one day as what happened on Christmas where a day reserved for joyful celebrations and other forms of merriment ends up with tragic news for those who either lost their loved ones or had relatives maimed in accidents?

On Christmas Day alone, 16 people perished on our roads while 106 accidents were recorded.

Of course for years, motorists and indeed members of the public who use commuter transport have watched helplessly as government prioritised other areas without paying attention to improving the country’s infrastructure, including the potholed roads which have become death traps.

But corruption within the rank and file of police and crooked Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) officers — in most cases are fuelling the avoidable accidents on the country’s roads.

Every holiday, police issue warnings against drink-driving, speeding and driving defective vehicles but most accidents are caused by these three factors.

Does it make sense for police to issue warnings against drink-driving yet they don’t have breathalysers to subject suspected drunk drivers to spot checks?

Without breathalysers, most drivers drink like fish and still drive either to their own deaths or someone else’s demise.

VID officers, on their part, pass defective buses and commuter omnibuses under questionable circumstances.

The same defective buses and commuter omnibuses become the milking cows on the country’s roads and become part of a feeding trough for these officers.

Without addressing some of these glaring weaknesses, police, safety council and government’s efforts to reduce road carnage will not yield desired results.

It is time authorities realise they need to confront the elephant in the room.