THAT 12 600 accidents were officially recorded in the first three months of this year is not only disturbing, but a loud call for action to be taken to contain the carnage on the country’s roads.
In its recent statistics report on transport, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) says an estimated 500 people lost their lives in 12 588 accidents recorded during the first quarter of this year.
And most worrying is the revelation that among the major culprits behind these horrendous statistics are unlicensed drivers who contributed to the staggering 140 accidents per day in the first three months of this year.
The ZimStat statistics also revealed something curious: A jaw-dropping failure rate by those who took certificate of competency test in the first quarter.
ZimStat says less than 50% of the 62 289 candidates who took certificate of competence tests in the first quarter of 2023 passed.
“In all provinces, except Mashonaland East (54%) and Harare (53,3%), proportions of candidates who passed certificate of competence tests during first quarter 2023, were less than 50%, ranging from 30,4% in Midlands to 44,6% in Manicaland,” said ZimStat.
This state of affairs points to the possibility that many of these people who are failing to pass the country’s road tests could simply be throwing caution to the wind and getting behind vehicle steering wheels and tearing down our roads like missiles on suicide missions.
Given that the country’s accident figures are only of mishaps which were officially recorded, the situation could actually be worse than this. We then ask: Why and how are these merchants of death and carnage on our roads slipping through the net to cause this mayhem?
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While we have been told that government has taken a number of steps to reduce road traffic accidents — and among the measures being increasing roadblocks and introducing tougher penalties for traffic violations — we doubt if these actions are yielding much, if anything.
And we believe the situation is getting worse because of widespread corruption on our roads.
We strongly suspect that there are now so many unlicensed drivers speeding down our roads because they are bribing their way past law enforcement agents. We have heard that there are countless unlicensed drivers who actually brag that they do not need any licence to drive on our roads.
Because corruption appears to be playing a major role in the carnage and death on our roads, we sincerely believe that one of the key things government needs to do is to pay our police officers well, as well as seriously upgrade their welfare to dissuade them from being tempted to accept bribes from the merchants of carnage and death causing anarchy on our roads.
A well-paid police officer, who has very little to worry about their general welfare, has no reason to accept a bribe from anyone. But because government is paying peanuts to the law enforcers as well as all civil servants, creates fertile ground for corruption to manifest.
Coming down hard on law enforcers who accept bribes will never solve the problems because others will emerge to replace those who would have been weeded out for accepting bribes. Government simply needs to introspect on what it is paying our police officers for corruption on our roads to stop.
Otherwise the country will continue to record rising numbers of accidents because of increased lawlessness in the wake of poor law enforcement by disgruntled police officers who are struggling to make ends meet owing to poor salaries.