Last week, in our Saturday Dialogue column, Ropafdzo Mapimhidze wrote an aricle: “Kombi drivers — Threat to human life” for which we got overwhelming responses form you, our valued readers. Below are some of the responses on this emotive issue.
Your article on Kombi drivers being a threat to human life was so touching and it really makes sad reading! I think the heading should have included the phrase “more than!” Most of these drivers do not care about our lives. I noted you mentioned the 2007 Kombi/train crash in which I lost a brother, the first born in our family.
Up to now we still feel the effects of his untimely departure. He was a breadwinner in his own right. The horrific scenes of the scattered bodies are still fresh in my mind.
Only last week I was asking myself if it’s taking us the Ndungwas so long to effectively recover from that tragic loss of our brother, what of the Madanhis who lost eight family members?
I tend to disagree with those who say it was God’s will when someone drives in a drunken state. My only question is: “When are the-powers-that-be going to say enough is enough?”
Because as of now, like Beatrice pointed out, they are only going to wait for the next accident and then appear sorrowful by contributing a bag of maize, a coffin, a blanket and some $200 or so. They don’t even think of the widowed wife or husband and let alone the orphaned children!
They seem happy to gain some mileage by visiting and talking “sorrowfully” at the endless scenes of tragedies.
It really boggles the mind that more than four years after the railroad crash at Kirkman Road in Tynwald North, the signals at this junction are still not functional.
There are neither warning lights nor any speed humps installed. I doubt it costs that much to install.
What are authories waiting for? Your guess is just as good as mine . . . another disaster is looming at this railroad crossing.
Thank you for your inspiring article on Saturday’s NewsDay Edition about kombi drivers.
The carnage on our roads has gone out of hand, to say the least. The culprits are the kombi drivers who have taken it upon themselves to flout all the rules of the road and have thrown the Highway Code out of the window.
The roadblocks that we see mounted on each and every road are not effective at all as you find that if a kombi is stopped at the roadblock you see the driver stopping some distance away from where he is supposed to stop, then the conductor rushes back to the police officer.
The question that comes to mind is: Is the police officer after the conductor or is he supposed to check the fitness and the roadworthiness of the kombi? What is the point of manning these roadblocks anywhere if the police officers are interested in the conductor? What does he want from him? The answer is very simple!
The police should do their work properly. Check the roadworthiness of the kombis and check if these drivers have the requisite documents for them to drive these kombis. I tell you Ropafadzo that 50% of these drivers do not have the required documents. Zimbabwe cannot keep on losing precious lives due to accidents. If the worst comes to the worst, then remove all kombis from the roads.
I would like to briefly comment on your contributions in NewsDay.
Firstly thank you for your contribution as it emphasises the importance of observing the rules of the road and reminds every driver to be responsible, in light of the tragedies that have happened in the past.
I am really sorry for the lives lost. However, I am not quite comfortable with the amount of blame apportioned to human error and kombi drivers as such. True, drivers are at fault in many accidents in our country, but to heap most of the blame on their part would be to ignore serious underlying causes of many tragic accidents. I have also felt embarrassed when ministers or responsible officials seek to blame human error to the extent of almost ignoring other factors.
My greatest concern is the state of our roads and lack of suitable road signs. Even though a vehicle may be roadworthy and is 100% in good condition, there are more chances of it reaching its destination with wheel alignment, imbalance or puncture problems due to the pothole situation on most of our roads.
How many times have you zigzagged your way on the roads trying to avoid knee-deep potholes, if you are driving yourself? What are the chances of veering off the road when avoiding such potholes for which there was no prior warning and on a 120km/h (or 80km/h for kombis) stretch of road? If you have driven on several of our roads you will also agree with me that there are lots of dangerous curves or dangerous points without any warning to road users.
For example some concrete-like structure intended for the construction of a toll-gate at Esigodini was left uncleared in the middle of the Bulawayo/Beitbridge Road for quite some time without any warning signs.
Most places require new signs because circumstances and situations have changed since the last signs were put in place. Some were vandalised. Others are defaced and thus invisible due to age.
Our roads need to be inspected and all suitable warning or informative signs erected/placed at suitable points. My advice will be that the responsible authorities should consult with regular drivers of each road (including kombi drivers) as these are the people who are best placed to point out the need for which sign or corrective action and where.
Hence with all speed signs, pothole warnings, reflective signs for bends etc in place the carnage problem would be brought down.
In short I pray that attention should be committed to the roads themselves as well.
Kombis, selling merchandise on the streets and so-called home industries, were introduced by Zanu PF in 1980 and the reason given at the time was “Why not, other African countries are doing it?”
That’s not to say accidents didn’t happen before 1980, but there were few and far between. Major towns operated very efficient bus services and there was no room for this kombi nonsense.
The white regimes had good laws in place to protect people, but in black nationalist circles these were all regarded as oppressive and were done away with in 1980. It became a free for all. Kombis should be banned for good never to return and efficient bus services restored to pre-1980 levels.
I was involved in a kombi accident when it burst the rear wheel and instead of the driver changing down he slammed the brakes resulting in an accident.
Four people died on the spot and three later in hospital. It’s a combination of many factors which can be attended to, but no one wants to act until it’s late.
Inexperienced drivers, mechanically faulty vehicle, overloading (in Uganda it’s three people to a seat) and of course speeding. The dollar trip ends up being very expensive so now I avoid the Kombis as much as I can, otherwise I leave it to Jesus.
No offence to you and all who agree with you. Banning the kombis is not the solution to this problem and neither are conventional buses. Stiffer penalties for reckless driving should be impossed.
Larger buses, for example, Mhunga and B&C killed more people than two from kombies in a single accident per bus. We ban the kombis, the drivers go to the buses, which carry two to more than six times kombi numbers and drive recklessly, no problem will be solved yet more people will die still.
Human fault should not be placed on vehicles because vehicles don’t tell drivers what to do. They do not make judgments for them. Police on the other hand practically live on the roads yet mapoto arikutowanda (old and rusty vehicles) making us wonder what there are there for.
Zupco also had buses that enabled you to see oncoming traffic hundred metres away whilst one sat at the back seat, because the chassis was bent. It took half a day to get into town from say Glen View or Budiriro on these buses.
Remember that these kombi drivers can also drive other vehicles that are not kombis, so be specific about what you are talking about.
You have made good points Ropa.
The police must focus on road safety, not insurance or listener`s licence (after all we play music in our cars) and nothing else.
Where is the insurance helping us here? To hell with insurance. Instead let’s go for motor vehicle accident fund to assist victims because accidents will always occur.
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