POLICE yesterday released 16 names of the 26 people who perished when a Pioneer bus reportedly side-swiped a Zupco bus at the 35km peg along the Harare-Nyamapanda Highway on Sunday, with the majority being juveniles from Mutoko and Harare.
Among the deceased were the two bus drivers Nyasha Matika (45), the Zupco driver, and Lovejoy Chabota (45) of Pioneer Unifreight.
Others are Munashe Mudzengere (17) from Mbare; Tawengwa Matyora (10) from Chief Chimoio, Mutoko; Fortunate Kuyere (9) from Kadyamusungwa village, Chief Chimoio in Mutoko; Movert Chikata (6) from Hwanya village, Mutoko; Lucia Chabata (12) of Hwanya village; Agnes Sakurangana (26) from Katsvairo village, Chief Nyachoma, Mutoko; siblings Tafadzwa (12), Tanaka (7), Tashinga Chinyama (7) all from Johanne village, Chief Mutoko; Nyaradzo Chihowa (32) from Johanne village; Sylvester Mudzengerere (14) from Mbare; Berlinda Mutize (18) from Unit N, Chitungwiza; Lydia Nyakabau (17) from Hatfield, Harare and Patrick Mupemi (30) from Msasa Camp, Harare.
The casualty toll rose to 26 following the death of another crash victim at Parirenyatwa Hospital yesterday.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said 10 of the deceased had not yet been identified as they did not have identification documents on them.
“Police are, therefore, appealing to relatives who may be missing their relatives to check with police at Parirenyatwa. Members of the public also also urged to carry with them identification documents especially when travelling for ease of identification in the event of an accident such as this one,” Charamba said.
She also advised motorists to avoid speeding and driving defective vehicles.
Government yesterday declared the accident a national disaster and announced plans to reduce the speed limits on the country’s major roads to minimise road carnage.
Speaking to journalists after visiting some of the crash survivors at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, Transport minister Obert Mpofu said speed limits would be further reduced in light of the bad state of most of the country’s highways.
“Our roads have become death traps, there is urgent need to address the state of the roads. It is necessary for the government to adjust the road speed limits in view of their poor state,” Mpofu said.
“We continue to urge motorists to drive with caution and try to avoid loss of human life.”
Speaking at the same event, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo said Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa had declared the accident a national disaster paving way for government to provide burial assistance.
“The government, through Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has declared the accident a national disaster. The government will assist in the burials and we want to send our condolences to the bereaved families,” Chombo said.
Parirenyatwa Hospital spokesperson Jane Dadzie said out of the 50 people admitted at the hospital on Sunday, 13 were still admitted while the majority had been discharged.
Police said preliminary investigations indicated that the driver of the Pioneer bus lost control of his vehicle and encroached into the opposite lane, causing a side-swipe with the Zupco bus which was travelling towards Mutoko.
Meanwhile, the main opposition MDC-T yesterday sent its condolence message to the families of the people who perished in the accident.
“The MDC would like to express its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of 24 passengers who perished in the fatal bus accident that took place on Sunday morning along the Harare-Nyamapanda Highway,” said MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu in a statement.
“We join the families of the deceased and the entire nation in mourning the tragic and unnecessary loss of life that continues to wreak havoc on the country’s dilapidated highways.”
The party blamed the Zanu PF government for contributing to the road carnage by failing to maintain the roads.
“As a result of this perennial neglect, there is virtually no tarred road in the whole of Zimbabwe that is not littered with huge and dangerous potholes. The country’s highways have been converted into death traps on which thousands of commuters lose their lives year in and year out,” the statement read.