AMHVoices: Zinara aiding road carnage

I OFTEN travel to Rusape and have noticed many things wrong with the road and drivers that contribute to the high accident rate on our roads. But which comes first the chicken or the egg?

By A Mbire,Our Reader

Loads of drivers ignore white lines and speed restrictions. I am not blameless.

Since the welcome upgrading of the road from Plumtree to Mutare, solid white lines have been changed, with some now going for kilometres, while vision is perfectly clear for safe overtaking. This is often because there is a now virtually disused farm roads joining the main road or virtually defunct shopping areas, or school entrances.

The responsibility for entering a main road should lie on drivers entering the road and not be protected by white lines hindering travellers on the main road.

The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) has allowed contractors to follow the demarcations from 50 years ago and lengthen some in line with South African practice.

In the Rhodesian days, you could trust your life to the road marking, but now lots of them do not make sense to drivers, so drivers tend to ignore them totally and make up their own minds as to when it is safe to overtake, with some making dangerous decisions.

The white lines also do not consider very slow moving traffic like heavily-laden lorries going at a snail’s pace up hills, and faster saloons, which are expected to stay behind the lorries while drivers can see that it is perfectly safe to overtake.

White lines should be there to tell drivers how much room they have for an overtaking manoeuvre, but if it is a solid line all the way to the next corner or rise, they are left to make up their own minds as to how much time they may have.

On the Bulawayo Road, I had a close call as the white lines had faded badly. So they need constant maintenance for drivers’ safety. If the white lines were shortened, cost of maintenance would obviously be reduced. They can also be shortened marginally once the corner or rise has been cleared. The present lines, as in the colonial days, seem to go on for a future 100 or 200 metres before they end. This further adds to drivers’ frustration and non-adherence to the lines.

Zinara is also pushing ahead with the dualisation of the road past the tollgate to Mutare and are approaching Bromley, but there are two bridges needed and work has not started on them so the road to Bromley cannot be opened for at least a year to come.

The money could much more wisely be put to better use making the road from Beitbridge-Chirundu and Plumtree-Mutare safer by adding overtaking lanes on hills and upgrading the verges on the Beitbridge-Chirundu Road until the main upgrade can be funded.

The Beitbridge-Chirundu Road needs urgent attention and cannot wait for government to find the money to implement the whole project.

2 Comments

  1. Valid observation and important for Zinara to take note. The Hre/Beitbridge road I hear is being dualized slowly, and the stretch after Beatrice has dust detour with work trucks parked for the weekend. That is crazy. You do not open up someone for surgery then take time off. You stay on the ball, 24X7 until the job is done and the road is usable, that is how it happens in other countries where there is accountability. It seems we are too used to impunity and zero accountability, coupled with sheer laziness. Building overtaking lanes every 10km or so will greatly ease driving on our very bad main trunk. It’s really straight forward, cheap and quick to do, if we do not love sleeping and idling away the way we do, and it saves lives. We have a bad situation and do not expect tourists to enjoy the experience and tell a positive story back home. We need to start doing a few good things and earn a positive narrative.

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