BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
The Kangetsambo family farm along Nyazura-Chivhu highway has sadly become the final destination for scores of road traffic accident victims as it is located right at the black spot popularly known as PaChimbwa.
If one visits the farm, shells of accident damaged cars, both old and fresh are strewn around while the fence has remained torn down from repeated smashes from vehicles.
The farm owner has since given up on repairing the fence.
Pachimbwa (name derived from a nearby farm) is a junction where the Harare-Murambinda road connects with the Nyazura-Chivhu highway in Zviyambe South, Wedza.
The vendors who operate at the area, farmers and other road users have witnessed a lot of horrific accidents for a number of years that include both public and private vehicles.
“It is a pity that our property has become the final end for a number of people for years now while others are seriously injured. We used to repair the fence but the frequency of the road accidents forced us to abandon the repairs,” said Arnold one of Kangetsambo’s sons.
The larger number of motorists who use the Harare-Murambinda road are oblivious of the junction’s existence and often tore through it and straight into the bushes or collide with vehicles along the Nyazura-Chivhu highway.
In a bid to reduce carnage at the spot government has erected at least four humps but all this has been in vain..
The junction has become a blackspot with some calling for both churches and traditional leaders to perform some rites and exorcise the area.
“We are tired of watching people die at this area. Something needs to be done and the road authorities know exactly the solutions to be proffered to avoid more deaths. There are humps but they are of no use. I have been selling my wares here for some time and what I have witnessed is horrific,” said Rumbidzai, a vendor at the junction.
The community leaders said they have engaged relevant authorities and hope that a solution will be found soon.
According to the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ), about 90% of road accidents are a result of human error, with speeding and overtaking errors topping the list of major causes of road accidents in Zimbabwe. It is estimated that at least five people die daily on the country’s roads, with an average of 2 000 people losing lives in accidents annually.
TSCZ spokesperson Tatenda Chinoda said the problem lies with motorists who are not adhering to traffic rules.
“We are seized with reports from people who live around the area and we will engage all stakeholders so that we come up with solutions to the problem. However, motorists need to adhere to the road rules to avoid loss of life. The drivers should take heed of all road signs,” he said.
A local businessman Shacky Kandava said it is high time relevant authorities do more in putting more signs at Chimbwa Junction as they are ‘tired of seeing blood’.
“There are humps but they are not doing justice at all. People are dying and we are witnessing accidents frequently. I suggest that the authorities do work on increasing the signage maybe at least about 200m from the junction. The signage that is currently there is no longer visible while some of the road signs have been vandalised. We are tired of seeing blood,” he said.
Recently, the Government of Zimbabwe agreed to harmonize traffic signs with those in other Sadc countries. The Sadc-Road Traffic Signs Manual (Sadc RTSM) became native legislation in Zimbabwe in 2016, with implementation currently under way.
Apart for the Chimbwa Junction, Zimbabwe has some blackspots along major highways where a lot of people are perishing especially during the festive season. Some of these include the Gejo RaRuby stretch along Harare-Nyambapanda, the Kandava curve in Seke along Harare-Wedza, Valley of Death in Nyanga and the Odzi stretch near Odzi Bridge in Manicaland among others.
Traditional healer Sekuru Forbes Maseko (81) said there is need to cleanse the Chimbwa Junction blackspot to avoid more accidents.
“There is need to perform some cleansing rituals at the area so that we appease the spirits of those who died long back at the spot, it is possible. We can win the war that way,” he said.
After the Gejo Raruby bus disaster that claimed a total of 27 people few years ago, the Roman Catholic held a mass and prayer session to cleanse the area from any further bad lucky.
Road accidents are the leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds globally, according to a report published by the World Health Organisation. Forty of the 50 countries with the highest road-death rates across all ages are in Africa. Traffic accidents now kill more people than malaria in many African countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa and Sudan.
The looming festive season is often characterised with numerous fatal road accidents with road safety authorities already on the highways on awareness campaigns. According to statistics, most road deaths occur between December 15 and January 2 every year.
TSCZ acting board chairperson Gift Machengete said at least 20 teams including police officers will be on the major highways to alert motorists on road safety.
Recently, First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa launched the road safety campaign dubbed “Save life #slowdown, chikuru kufunga pamigwagwa yedu” where she spoke to passengers saying curbing road carnage needed a multi-sectoral approach.
“Let us unite and be champions of road safety at all levels, from families, villages, churches and workplaces. Each social group must have distinguished road safety champions and play an important role is saving lives,”she said.
At least 111 people died on the country’s roads during the last festive season.