Govt must act on road fatalities

HARARE - Zimbabwe has in the recent past registered numerous avoidable deaths on the country’s roads owing to a number of factors ranging from the condition of roads to human error.

It appears authorities only awaken from deep slumber after a fatality to declare the mishap a disaster but they forget those lives lost will never be recovered.

It is important for government to ensure that all the country’s roads are usable. Following very heavy rains last year, the condition of the bulk of the country’s already-poor road infrastructure deteriorated further.

The Dema kombi crash that occurred on Monday morning has so far claimed 10 lives.

This happened barely two weeks after another horror crash involving a King Lion bus on its way to Lusaka, Zambia which killed 45 people and injured 30 others in Nyamakate along the Harare-Chirundu highway.

In this case, the driver — who was reportedly speeding — lost control of the bus before it rammed into a tree.

Earlier, a South Africa-bound Proliner bus side-swiped with a haulage truck near Chaka Business Centre in Chirumhanzu, killing over 30 passengers, burning them beyond recognition.

With the Dema crash death toll rising to ten — six having perished on the spot while the other three died on their way to hospital with the tenth one succumbing to his injuries two days later — authorities must explore ways of dealing with the scourge.

A lot of interventions have been toyed with in public platforms. There are some who are advocating stringent speed control measures on public transport vehicles like kombis and buses.

This may not work unless these speed limiters are transfixed onto the bus at the point of manufacture. If these controls are then considered after this point, they may not work.

At times passengers do not realise that it is their lives that are at stake when drivers speed. On numerous occasions, passengers actually cheer the driver on although any accident may result in them losing their lives.

Speeding has never been a virtue on the roads. It must be a preserve of motor sport, whose version in Zimbabwe would be found in places like Donnybrooke and not our highways.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police, whose presence on the country’s roads has been a topical issue of late, must enforce traffic laws.

If the police are ever present on our highways, how come unroadworthy vehicles pass through their checkpoints?

The issue may not go beyond the fact that these drivers actually pay their way through, risking people’s lives in the process.

Although the condition of vehicles and roads also contribute to accident statistics, it appears the bulk of them are a result of human error.

As such, this becomes an area which has to be fully interrogated if the carnage on the country’s roads is to be minimised.

When driving through a poor section of the road, it is only pertinent for extra caution to be exercised, especially by the driver because recklessness only serves to propagate chances of an already existing danger.

The onus is on government to come up with an effective regulatory framework that will work to reduce these fatalities.

No road accident is welcome, but surely fatalities are worse. For instance, the majority of victims in both the Nyamakate and Chaka mishaps were cross-border traders — obviously breadwinners who were trying to fend for their families.

Whereas coming up with an accident fund would help victims, it appears this is a reactive measure which seeks to treat the symptoms and not stem the ailment out completely.

Accidents will continue to happen, but there is a way of reducing their incidence.

There is no way Zimbabwe can continue on this trajectory. Government simply has to act, and act urgently too.

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