Our roads have become death traps

HARARE - On Saturday, another life was lost when a Gweru-bound bus carrying 53 passengers veered off the road and overturned in Bulawayo.

This comes on the bedrock of several other accidents that have claimed more lives this month.

A fortnight ago, 42 passengers were burnt beyond recognition while 26 others were seriously injured near West Nicholson when a bus travelling from Zvishavane to South Africa caught fire and exploded following a leaking gas cylinder that was among the luggage.

Another horrendous accident occurred a few days earlier when two buses collided in Rusape killing over 45 people at the 166km peg along the Harare-Mutare highway.

To curb the carnage on the road, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has hiked traffic fines by as much as 2 200 percent while his counterpart at the Transport ministry, Joe Biggie Matiza is working on coming up with a solution to this problem.

Matiza indicated recently that a disaster management committee was seized with the matter and that members of the public would be informed of the outcome from its deliberations in due course.

Experts, however, blame most of these accidents on human error, which puts drivers and to some extent passengers on the spot.

It is regrettable that instead of being responsible while driving, some of our motorists behave like animals, if not worse.

While the country’s roads are not in the best of conditions, the fact that our drivers are alive to their shortcomings should actually get them to be more cautious when they are behind the wheel, which is not the case at the moment.

The country’s road rules are also in keeping with the rest of the world, which narrows the problem to that of pathetic driving whereby our motorists tend to react at the slightest provocation.

While the pent-up pressures arising from the tough economic challenges could be contributing to road rage, it should never be an excuse for the recklessness contributing to the loss of lives and injuries on our roads.

The courtesy expected on the country’s roads must go beyond actual driving to considering the implications of one’s actions on others.

Small things such as making way for fast moving traffic when one is driving slowly and making way for someone even if that person is in the wrong could make a difference by removing the frustration that blocking other road users could cause.

To get our drivers to improve on their driving, defensive driving should be made compulsory especially for those who drive public transport and haulage truck drivers who tend to be inconsiderate to other road users as they usually come out unscathed.

Comments (1)

If the approach to reduce road carnage is that of 'control and ban' ie compulsory defensive driving licence and punitive traffic fines the goal will not be achieved. Unfortunately citizens already view this government as one that does not care about them, ZRP's image and relationship with citizenry especially road traffic is at all-time low all its efforts are perceived either corrupt, partisan or selective. The best approach will be a persuasive sustained appeal to drivers to drive responsibly valuing human lives while vigorously addressing other issues such as the state of the roads versus the number of traffic, availability of spare parts at reasonable prices for the maintenance of roadworthy fleet, reviving of an efficient public transportation system in urban centres etc etc. Not ridiculous hike of traffic fines or the roping in of the ARMY as suggested by certain facets of government.

Sinyo - 28 November 2018

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