Prosecuting kombi owners a good move

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THE expected prosecution of Fortune Ganha – the owner of a commuter omnibus vehicle which was involved in a fatal accident in which 10 lives were lost last Monday is a step in the right direction if government is serious about taming the traffic jungle across the country.

NewsDay Editorial

Zimbabweans are sick and tired of the rot on the country’s roads between the police and kombi drivers. Regrettably, each time a commuter omnibus was involved in an accident only the driver was prosecuted while the kombi operator simply looked for another driver to take care of business. This appeared as though kombi operators were above the law.

In the City-Chitungwiza tragedy, the driver of the public service vehicle Chanengeta Musiiwa was by law not supposed to be behind the wheel for he did not have the required experience or defensive driving certificate, both requisites for a commuter omnibus driver.

How Ganha employed Musiiwa to drive his kombi, which also did not have insurance cover, is anybody’s guess. So the country will welcome the move to prosecute ahe owner because in the future they will be more careful for fear of being prosecuted. Not that Ganha’s prosecution will mean that there won’t be accidents anymore, but that operators should value the lives of the commuters who support their businesses.

According to reports, Ganha recorded a warned-and-cautioned statement at Harare Central Police Station traffic section last Thursday. He will be charged with contravening Section 4 (a) of Statutory Instrument 168/2006 Road Traffic Regulations 2006 (permitting a driver to drive as public service vehicle without any written proof of continuous driving for five years prior to driving a public service vehicle).

But Ganha is denying the allegations, saying the driver was his relative who stole the keys from his uncle without permission. Although Ganha is refuting the allegations since anyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, it is important that as the owner he had the right to check the qualifications of his employee before handing over his vehicle to Musiiwa, who unfortunately tragically died on the fateful day. Ganha should have his day in court. Zimbabweans would wait to see how he will defend himself.

It is important to note that many innocent lives have been lost in public service vehicles countrywide as major cities have been turned into traffic jungles by kombi drivers contravening traffic laws with impunity.

One cannot imagine losing 10 breadwinners, seven of them on the spot, while six others were seriously injured when the vehicle veered off the road and rammed into a tree.

The fact that the likes of Musiiwa continue to drive public vehicles means more lives are likely to be lost unless the country presses hard on the kombi operators themselves. It is hoped that the State versus Ganha case will serve as a test case going forward for kombi operators to be diligent enough when employing drivers for their businesses.

It is also important to point out that together with the prosecution of kombi owners government must begin a phase-out of the commuter ominbuses on the streets and reintroduce convention buses going forward.

It is about time the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) is capitalised to serve the country human resource it is losing at the hands of uncaring commuter omnibus drivers. The country should also change legislation to ensure kombi drivers are charged with murder and not culpable homicide for negligence.