HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsSomeone is to blame for the blood on our roads

Someone is to blame for the blood on our roads

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Those that have driven along the Nyanga-Nyamaropa Road where 18 people perished last Sunday say the road literally “disappears” at that black spot where the commuter omnibus crashed into a stone embankment killing 12 people on the spot.

The ill-fated bus was ferrying members of the Johane Masowe Wechishanu Jerusarema sect to a church gathering in Kadzere, Nyanga.

The driver of the bus, Akiel Mazanhi, died while being transferred from Mutare Provincial Hospital to Harare for specialist treatment and cannot therefore be available to testify on the condition of the road.

But it is fact the place is a black spot where, in one of Zimbabwe’s most unforgettable horror accidents, 89 students and teachers from Regina Coeli Secondary School died after their bus crashed in 1991. Another 19 people lost their lives at the same spot after the lorry they were travelling in overturned when the driver failed to negotiate a sharp curve — apparently because the road “disappeared” in front of him.

Wrecked vehicle remains are littered around the place, a grim reminder of the many lives that have been lost there.

Granted, the terrain around that part of Zimbabwe may be treacherous, but when a place has become such a dreadful black spot, there is something that authorities can do. What we hear is that other than the stone embankment – which will not stop a speeding vehicle from ploughing through – there are no road signs warning motorists of the dangers ahead.

There is need for road authorities not only to place warning signs, but to reconstruct that part of the road. No amount of money is too much to save human life. There is money for that purpose — Zimbabwe National Road Authority has the money from tollgates and more from taxpayers whose lives remain endangered because their money is not being put to good use.

Another seven people died last Thursday because a bus driver who allegedly took the Mbembesi Road for a race track and his vehicle for a sports car crashed the bus while trying to overtake another bus. The police should do more to keep public transporters within legal speed limits and do a thorough job of checking vehicle fitness.

What we have unfortunately known of our traffic police is that they mount roadblocks not to do what they are on the roads for, but simply to collect money from public transporters without bothering to check the vehicles’ roadworthiness.

Simba Makoni of the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn party said of the road disasters yesterday: “The country’s roads, which have become a death trap, are in a dilapidated state despite the fact that the inclusive government is realising a lot of revenue from tollgates. Corruption has also taken its toll on the roads owing to regulatory authorities who receive bribes to allow smooth passage of unroadworthy vehicles along the country’s highways.”

Concerns have been raised over the condition of our roads, including at places long declared black spots, but authorities seem to forget as soon as victims are buried. The Harare-Masvingo stretch where Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai survived the highway horror that took his wife’s life continues to claim lives.

In other countries, authorities that are directly responsible for the loss of citizens’ lives because of such negligence of duty resign or are fired. In Zimbabwe, they would appeal to the highest court against such action and their conscience would remain unscathed.

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