Death trap in waiting: Zim road network an accident waiting to happen, an accident always happening

    By Gilbert Navonika

    The recent  horror accident that has been reported to have claimed 45 lives of our brothers and sisters happened about 30km before Makuti along Harare and Chirundu highway is another sad chapter in our history.  Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said onThursday said that the bus crashed on Wednesday night about 96 miles north of the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. Charamba says the bus driver failed to negotiate a curve, though a formal investigation of the crash is underway.

    The accident is reported to have happened when the driver of King- Lion bus  is alleged to have lost control and rammed into a tree resulting in this horrific accident. It is also reported that 24 passenger have been injured and they have been taken to Chinhoyi Hospital and arrangements to ferry the deceased to the same hospital were ongoing. I’m a saddened by this horror in our roads again, my heart goes to all the families affected by the accident.

    I duly challenge the government of Zimbabwe to put a lot more effort in making our roads safer and they should work on policies that change how we test Vehicles and Drivers of cross border vehicles and or passenger carrier. Many lives are being lost each year on the Zimbabweans roads and if this is not an alarm to the government I don’t know what is.

    Furthermore police officers are setting up too many roadblocks some are illegal money making scheme and this action is also another reason why drivers speed up to beat their roadblocks, putting lives at risk. The other issue is employee targets which results in high speed driving to beat targets to and from the route.

    21st Century we should be moving to digital world and retrain police officer. We must install traffic cameras and build many Service Areas and regulate breaking times. Installing  speed cameras and good lighting will work as a deterrent to those who drive recklessly and ignore the rules. On the other hand any bus or coach should not be allowed to exceed a certain speed for example in the UK buses and coaches cannot exceed 70mph / 113kmh. Heavy fines should be issued to those who are found in breach of the Traffic Act.

    Traffic cops should be able to be equipped with cameras ( body cam) and dash cams, this action will help curb corruption in our roads. Bribes are becoming cancerous and it’s affecting the way both the police and drivers should be behaving, police officers should serve and protect the society and in turn as drivers we must refrain from paying our way out of trouble, let us change our ways and observe  the Road Traffic Act.

    ZRP must reduce the number of police officers loitering around in our roads  doing nothing more-so  those receiving bribes and underperforming or endangering road users must be prosecuted or  should face dismissal. Home Affairs Deputy Minister Cde Mguni said 357 police officers were suspended last year on allegations of corruption.“The disciplining mechanism which is there in the police has actually seen the suspension of more than 357 police officers last year who had been doing other things that are outside their working scope,” he said.

    Worryingly I’m reading that many drivers are not qualified to be behind the wheel, many drive under the influence or on a regular basis drive for longer hours with no rest, which also is in breach of the Road Traffic Act. Surely more needs to be done by companies that employ these drivers but most importantly the police force should restore faith in the road users.  It is also our duty as individuals to observe the law and make sure that we save lives by allowing ample time to rest and travel it is also important for driver to  refrain from engaging in activities that endangers passengers and others.

    Our transport network needs to be at the CORE of our discussion in a bid to save lives. We cannot just carry out investigations on this particular  accident as pointed out by Mrs Charamba, but also go back to the root causes as to why we are witnessing many accidents on our roads.

    One thing for sure someone is at fault here. It’s either the buses are not roadworthy and if that’s true, how did the traffic cops miss this? Is someone paying their way out of proper checks and investigations. If the bus/coach was not fit, it should not be ferrying people about, or are the drivers  doing something wrong which is endangering lives.

    I am however wondering what made the bus driver to misjudge the curve; was it because he was speeding ? If true, this will be classified as a human error, reckless and dangerous driving  which carries an indictment charge or was  it just the poor unsafe dangerous  nature of our Zimbabwean roads.

    Some comments on social media are calling for a number of actions to be taken, this includes 1. Coaches must have mandatory speed limits.  2. 24hr tracking system by the company which must be compulsory and law 3. Mandatory insurance for passengers 4. Time travel limits “tiredness can kill.”

    I hope proper investigations will be carried out properly and a full report will be made public as to the real causes of the accident and the measures which are going to be put in place to avoid such a huge loss again on our roads. Someone is to blame here , the company, the driver or our government.

    This is a national tragedy I expect families of those affected to at least have compensation after a full enquiry or investigation but knowing Zimbabwe someone would want to cover it up and brush it under the carpet because we lack Institutions that advocate for such.

    Our roads are becoming dangerous to us the road users everyday, the funny part is many of us are paying road taxes but we see no real improvements on our roads, but utter decay.

    I believe our government should also have made huge strides with other means and mode of transport such as rail network but our only national rail NRZ is suffering and a recent report suggested that some of the carriages are now being used as brothels.

    This is why I disagree with many people who boast about Zimbabwe being full of educated people, educated how? What improvement has the government done to our rail network? Why can’t we have rail links between inner cities and town? Oh wait this cannot be possible because we lack visionaries. Just look at what  other countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia  did recently with their rail network, it just goes to show that these things are possible if you have the right people in right places.

    No one can convince me in 2017 that no one wants to travel safely and quicker. If our rail network is in full swing guess what we create “JOBS” yes jobs because for the running of the service the rail network  will need Human Resources to make sure  the free flowing of the transport system, and maybe we could have been thinking that at least the 2.2million jobs creation is no myth but as it stands only two jobs have been created. Of course I have said it, Bona and Simba Chikore the first family royalty  are now the only 2 to get the jobs under the “Command No Jobs”.

    I do not want to dwell on Simba Chikore and his Air Zimbabwe dubbed Air Simbabwe because today I wanted to focus on rail and road, but we all know that Air Simbabwe is now suffering failing to pay its employees, to being banned flying into Europe.

    We have to revive our rail network because we are putting a huge burden on these poor constructed roads, if we had good railway links many of these accidents would have been avoided and passengers would have more choice as to which mode of transport they needed to use. Moreover trains are greener than many of the automobiles we use in our country. We deserve better in Zimbabwe.

    I am convinced that the statistics on the road causalities are appalling, if we have such a database that record road casualties yearly. If we do then what is the government doing to fix the problem? I am not saying that on beautiful roads vehicles don’t have accidents but my concern is around the lack of progress since 1980 to build sustainable transport networks. What is the government doing about the death toll on the roads?

    As someone from the Opposition our goals are set in making sure that we change the way people move from place to place without fear of death or serious harm to self and others. We need to show this “Ruining Party” Zanu PF and it’s cronies that we can build  a better Zimbabwe. I also pray that I want Mr Mugabe to live longer to see these changes, I would be happy for him to board a train from Harare going to his rural KwaZvimba in a new Zimbabwe, safely and efficiently.

    How is this all possible? It can be achieved by making sure that we build safer roads and revive our rail network. We can achieve this by proper research and investing in good quality service from  experts in the two areas in question. We also have to make sure that not only are the roads user friendly and safe but the vehicles on our roads are roadworthy too. In urban built up areas or CBD we must put up congestion and emission charges and promote the use of bicycles within the CBD itself, this will generate a lot of revenue that can be channelled to good use.

    Revenue received from vehicle taxes and charges from congestion and emissions will be ploughed back into road maintenance, this include, road markings, lighting , refugee areas, dualisation, camera installation ( speed and or traffic control). These are some of the items missing in our roads today and we are in 2017. Any government that doesn’t put its people first especially in matters such as safety on the roads is not of the people as it clearly is showing in Zimbabwe, were commissioning of a single traffic light in Chivhu makes headline news. Cry my beloved country.

    Why does our government not just look in the mirror and hold their hands up to say we have failed let others try and rebuild the country. I think there’s no shame in that line of thinking, but it is hard to imagine a Mugabe saying that I give up because his cronies won’t allow him to even contemplate stepping aside.

    My last words to you on this matter is just an encouragement, please  do not allow this to continue happening let us challenge these people who are ruining our future. Let us help rebuild our country but it’s only possible after Zanu PF is gone as they are not willing to change. With Zanu PF in charge we are moving 20 years backwards, while others are thriving.

    Imagine a country that fails to build 3 way Motorway/ Highway/Freeway but continues to allow millions of cars good and bad to roam our streets! Let me leave this here I will come back to it on another day.

    Our country needs us next year let’s vote Zanu PF out and bring change in Zimbabwe.

    May the deceased rest in Peace. I also wish a speedy recovery to those injured. I would also like to extend my gratitude to those who helped the casualties, God bless you all and your families.

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