The recent announcement by Minister of Transport Obert Mpofu calling for reduction of bus speed limits is a welcome gesture.
This follows the death of 25 people who died when two buses side-swiped each other along the Harare-Mutoko highway.
Zimbabwe has in the past introduced drastic measures following accidents of such a magnitude which have been declared national disasters.
These measures have, however, fallen on deaf ears because research has found that most accidents are caused by human error.
This is a problem that requires all stakeholders in the transport industry to deal with as a matter of urgency. Many innocent lives have been lost as a result of incompetent drivers that have been let loose on Zimbabwe’s road network.
Zimbabwe’s bad road network is one of the many reasons why accidents are always happening because the roads are too narrow and potholed.
The question is why is it taking so long for dualisation of these major roads? And what is happening to money being collected by the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) at toll gates which are raking in millions of dollars each month?
Isn’t that money supposed to go towards roads rehabilitation? Can someone tell us why this is taking so long?
The other problem that has worsened this matter is the alleged rampant corruption happening at the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) where any person who produces cash can obtain a drivers’ license.
This is the major source of all these problems.
In other words, whether or not a driver is competent, for as long as there is money exchanged, there is guarantee of one obtaining a license. This newspaper has it on good authority that some VID officials allegedly run private driving schools and those who do not register with these schools fail road tests until these clients register with their schools.
This clearly means that the problem has to be tackled from the VID where a lot of unscrupulous deals are taking place.
A few years ago, a certain bus company with a fleet of long distance buses that plied the Harare-Masvingo Highway was banned with its operating licence cancelled after loss of lives through accidents.
But the bus operator is back on our roads using a different trade name. Following the Regina Coeli accident that killed 83 school children in 1991, certain measures were also introduced to curb road carnage.
Some of the worst accidents that will remain etched in Zimbabwe’s history include the Tynwald bus-train accident where 39 people died in 2007, Featherstone bus accident of December 2009, three Mhunga bus accidents that happened in 2009 along the Masvingo-Harare Highways and many others.
At least 23 serious bus accidents have been recorded in Zimbabwe between 2007 and 2015 which were caused by human error.
For as long as screws are not tightened by transport operators, the VID and the police, Zimbabwe will continue to experience loss of lives.
The Transport minister has to come up with a lasting solution to this problem because measures to reduce speed will not do much to solve this menace.
Zimbabwe needs to take a proactive role by providing a safe public transport system for its people and not leave this sector to be soley run by privately owned transport companies.