HomeNewsEyewitness account: A nightmare on Masvingo road

Eyewitness account: A nightmare on Masvingo road

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The mere mention of Harare-Beitbridge Highway is enough to evoke sad memories, horror and unpleasant emotions, as this road has been the scene of some of the country’s worst road accidents.

BY Tapiwa Zivira

The mental torture is made worse by the presence of many fresh vehicle wreckages that one sees on either side of the roadside, which makes it appear like a path to death.

Not much research is needed to establish why there are many accidents on this road, probably one of the busiest in the country since it links South Africa and Zimbabwe and most of Africa.

South Africa is the continent’s economic hub and, naturally, goods and people transit from that country to and through Zimbabwe via the Harare-Beitbridge Highway.

The government has been dithering on dualising the highway, leaving it scarred, patched up and too dangerous for the volume of traffic that uses it every day.

Out of interest, and having said prayers before going down the highway to Masvingo, I made a physical count of the heavy vehicles that were coming from the opposite direction driving towards Harare.

Between Harare and Chivhu, a distance of about 110km, I came across 105 heavy trucks and 11 buses, a total of 116, with nine of these broken down and parked dangerously on the verges of the road.

On average, this translates to about a heavy vehicle every kilometre and according to road safety experts, the narrowness of the road and a high volume of heavy vehicles coming from the other direction increases the concentration demand for an average driver, increasing the rate at which they get tired.

Tafadzwa Goliati, of the Zimbabwe Passengers’ Association, attributed the high volumes to the death of the railway infrastructure.

“We used to have rail transport system that transported luggage, sharing the burden with roads, but because the railways have been vandalised, and is now inefficient, many now prefer the road,” he said.

To make it worse, Masvingo Road — now 55 years old — has outlived its lifespan of 20 years, meaning the road should have been redone 35 years ago.

Although the government this year moved to dualise the road under a loan facility, work has not started four months after President Robert Mugabe presided over the ground-breaking ceremony in Chaka.

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