IN 2013, Zimbabwe adopted the concept of devolution that ensures legislative and executive power are shared and distributed among different tiers of government.
BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
This will result in provinces and municipalities having a say on how to run their areas.
However, with the country moving towards implementing the devolution strategy, it might also represent a new dawn in the fight against road carnage across the country.
Road safety stakeholders are currently working flat out to tame the traffic jungle in line with the 2030 vision of reducing road deaths by 50% hence the call by the new dispensation to fully embrace devolution could be a welcome idea.
Passenger Association of Zimbabwe (Paz) president Tafadzwa Goliath said there should be localised road safety strategies in order to reduce road accident deaths on the highways.
“Road safety, as related to devolution, affects road engineering, emergency preparedness, education and road laws enforcement. Provinces need to improve their emergency preparedness, especially in the golden hour moment. There should be localised provincial strategies in terms of traffic safety education and enforcement,” he said.
The “golden hour” is the crucial moment — usually an hour at most — after a potentially fatal accident in which experts believe a number of lives could be saved. The festive season started off badly following the death of 14 people near Juru Growth Point after two commuter omnibuses were involved in a head-on-collision on December 16.
During the last festive season, a total of 136 people died in 1 400 separate road traffic accidents recorded countrywide between December 15, 2017 and January 1, 2018.
The implementation of localised solutions to traffic accidents has yielded fruits in the United Kingdom, according to the 2015 statistics.
According to the motoring charity, The RAC Foundation, the fall in the number of serious and fatal injuries in road accidents in Scotland may, in part, be attributable to the strong levels of devolution in that country.
The foundation stated that in Wales, where there is only limited devolution, the number of serious and fatal injuries fell by only 15% in 2013.
In comparison the number of serious and fatal injuries in the same period fell by 35% in Northern Ireland and 33% in Scotland.
“The United Kingdom government hopes to achieve a UK-side reduction in serious and fatal road accident injuries of 40% (based on figures for 2005). However, it is clear that more (and perhaps more devolution) needs to be achieved in Wales before it can make the kind of progress currently recorded in Scotland and Northern Ireland,” RAC Foundation said.
According to the national budget presented by Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube recently, each of the country’s 10 provinces stands to be allocated $31 million for devolution implementation.
Speaking during a handover ceremony of medical supplies and ambulance tyres by the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) recently, Mashonaland East Resident Minister Aplonia Munzverengi emphasised that devolution was also in the interest of public safety.
“I request the TSCZ to open an office here in Marondera and expect that office to promote road safety in the province around the clock. Can you imagine the cost incurred by our people when they travel from here (Marondera) to Harare to obtain a defensive driving course? Can you imagine if we have a disaster here and no one from TSCZ sits on our civil protection committee? How then will you learn lessons for use in the future?” she said.
“In the interest of devolution, come and establish an office here in Marondera; in the interest of public safety. You must also have the intention to open sub-offices in places like Murewa, Chivhu and Mutoko.”
Every day in Zimbabwe, on average, a road traffic collision occurs every 15 minutes.
About 38 to 40 people are injured on our roads every day. Annually, the country loses an average of 2 000 people, while about 13 000 are injured.
This results in an estimated loss of about $406 million, an amount which about to 1,6% of the Gross Domestic Product.
Addressing road safety stakeholders in Harare last month, TSCZ managing director Obio Chinyere said there was need to form road safety committees in different areas in line with the demands of devolution to curb road carnage.
“In line with the national spirit of devolution, the various provinces shall form robust provincial road safety committees. These will have the territorial authority to determine the extent of the road traffic injury problem in their province, and the nature and type of interventions applicable to the same. This means each province must have its own provincial road safety strategy and implement it. Gone are the days of a ‘one size fits all’ approach,” Chinyere said.
This year, the country recorded shocking fatal road accidents, with the month of November claiming at least 100 lives.
On November 7, about 50 people died while several others were left nursing injuries in an accident that involved Bolt Cutter and Smart buses. The horrific accident was followed by another that occurred in West Nicholson where more than 40 passengers on their way to neighboring South Africa were burnt beyond recognition after the bus they were travelling in caught fire.
According to a 2015 World Health Organisation report, more than 1,3 million people are killed and more than 50 million injured in road traffic accidents annually, across the globe. About 90% of these deaths occur in developing countries.
However, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa vowing to implement the devolution programme, the country could turn a corner in as far as curbing road carnage is concerned.