Driving To Deliver Your Business

Tsholotsho road disaster: Govt to blame

RECENTLY, 22 health personnel perished and 50 others were injured after the driver of the speeding vehicle they were travelling in lost control of the truck and veered off the road before overturning several times, killing 15 passengers on the spot near Jimila Business Centre in Tsholotsho. By Jairos Saunyama The lorry belonging to the Health and Child Care ministry was reportedly being driven by a 28-year-old man, who was allegedly spotted consuming alcohol while on duty.

With Zimbabwe, a signatory of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, to reduce road deaths by 50%, it is clear that the route to achieve such a feat is marred with potholes, as the critical stakeholders are failing to lead by example. Despite massive calls by various stakeholders to end road traffic deaths through adhering to safety rules, government was caught on the wrong side of the law after the health personnel were overloaded in a lorry with malaria control equipment. Road safety traffic ambassador and musician, Jeys Marabini said the driver was too young for such a responsibility.

“This is very sad, it was difficult for me to accept that government ferried people in a lorry. There were goods also in the lorry. The truck was overloaded.

The driver was 28 years old, it was at night. We don’t encourage people to drive at night. What the ministry did is unacceptable.

They could have looked for a bus or ferry people and that one (lorry) to carry the tools that they were using,” he said. “It is a learning curve, but we have learnt the hard way. We have lost young and energetic people in a way that could have been avoided.

The driver was young and drunk and you wonder how he has been carrying out his duties before,” Marabini added. The Jimila disaster came after another accident in Hwange in which 11 people died in a haulage truck, while 119 were injured after the truck’s braking system failed, before veering off the road and overturning. The haulage truck was loaded with 130 people from the apostolic sect, who were on a pilgrimage.

Arrive Alive awareness campaign manager, Isaac Simbarasi said the Jimila disaster shows how government is not taking the issue of road safety seriously in the country. He added that the nation had lost skilled personnel in an accident that could have been avoided. “We do not expect such a young man to drive a vehicle that carries people and worse still government workers from such a respectable ministry.

The second thing is, how can government allow such a number of people in one vehicle, it doesn’t help and in this case we have lost able-bodied people. “In future, government authorities should put people’s safety first. It is not about sending people on a mission, but it is also about how they get there.

It is not allowed to ferry people in a lorry, there is a law that prohibits that. Government through the Health ministry erred on that,” he said. According to a 2015 World Health Organisation report, more than 1,3 million people are killed and over 50 million injured in road crashes on the world’s roads annually.

About 90% of these deaths occur in developing countries. In Zimbabwe, human error is the cause of more than 90% of road accidents, with speeding and overtaking errors leading in road deaths. Commenting on the Jimila accident, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said there was need to provide decent modes of transport for government workers.

“As the Home Affairs minister has rightly said, we should implore our drivers to exercise extreme caution on the roads. But in particular, these people were in a lorry. That is not the proper mode of transport for ferrying such a number of people.

Ferrying 76 people in a lorry? I was talking to the Health and Child Care minister that in future we should not allow this to happen. We should hire buses,” he said.

According to the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, 2011 was the country’s bloodiest year as it recorded 2 000 road accidents in which 1 992 people died and 16 944 were injured. The report indicated that since 2006, road accident fatalities have increased from 1 037 deaths with media reports indicating that an average five people die on Zimbabwe’s roads daily.

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