TRANSPORT minister Obert Mpofu yesterday said his ministry will soon introduce stringent road usage regulations, including compulsory inspections, for both public and private vehicles, as government moves to tame the traffic jungle which has already claimed close to 300 lives this year.
The proposed stringent driving regulations come shortly after a horrific accident that occurred along the Beitbridge-Masvingo Road on Monday which killed 18 people.
Police said as of June 30 this year, they had recorded 19 284 road accidents where 285 people died while 7 114 others were injured. Deaths, especially along the country’s major roads, have been steadily rising over the past few years with police attributing most of the accidents to unlicenced drivers, a surge in traffic volume and poor road network.
Mpofu yesterday said there was now need to strictly regulate both public and privately-owned vehicle drivers.
In a speech read for him at a public transporters’ workshop organised by the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ), Mpofu said the regulations which would include compulsory inspections, would help bring sanity on the roads which have been turned into death traps.
Mpofu also lashed out at some public transport operators who were setting unreasonable targets for their drivers forcing them to speed and flout road traffic regulations and putting the lives of passengers at risk.
“You should not unleash unroadworthy vehicles that are being driven by young, inexperienced and enthusiastic drivers with no regard for human life,” he said.
“As a ministry, we are very concerned about the continuous loss of life especially due to human error and deliberate disregard of laid-down rules.”
Public transport drivers are subjected to regular medical check-ups and have to undergo defensive driving courses. They also have to go for retests and have to be aged 25 years and above, among other requirements.
Speaking at the same occasion which was also attended by the police, representatives from the Vehicle Inspection Department and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, TSCZ chairperson Nelson Mawema said it was now critical to ensure road safety as many people were dying needlessly.
“We do not want to point fingers at anyone, but our priority should be centred on reducing the carnage,” he said.
TSCZ spokesperson Ernest Muchena urged transport operators to verify documents and licences of their drivers to ensure that they were genuine.
“Many of you do not even know the real names of your drivers. You instead call them by their pet names and that is why you get duped,” he said
Transport operators who attended the workshop expressed concern over the high fees for getting duplicate permits
“The government should consider reducing the amount as this will deter us from replacing lost permits,” said one of the operators.
TSCZ, police and public transporters will from August 6 to 12, hold a road safety awareness campaign ahead of the Heroes’ Day holidays.
Meanwhile, police yesterday released names of 16 of the 18 people who died in the road accident that occurred along the Beitbridge-Masvingo Road on Monday.
These are: Tawedzerwa Charumbira (56), Stella Nyamutsanza (34), Amos Zirima (23), Moses Mutaurwa (20), Fungisai Jefrey (39), Loveness Masvanhire (36), Cotney Nyasha Zinhanzva (3), Tracy Zinhanzva (5 months), Susan Gwese (40), Simbarashe Manyapa (25), Martha Muzenda (36), Peter Nekate (47), Patience Maugara (33), Letwin Maugara (33), Ranganai Kudzokera (age not given), who died on admission to United Bulawayo Hospital, and Madangudza Shungu (age not given), who died on the way to Bulawayo.