HARARE – News that 45 people perished when a Zambia-bound bus — carrying mostly cross-border traders — crashed in Nyamakate near Makuti made very sad reading.
Only last month, over 30 passengers were burnt beyond recognition in a bus accident at Nyamatikiti near Chaka in Chirumanzu.
These accidents must jolt authorities to act on this needless loss of lives on the country’s roads.
While circumstances in both crashes may appear different, night driving is a common feature. In a way, authorities must critically look at night driving with a view to outlawing it completely, especially where it involves public service vehicles.
When somebody decides to undertake night driving in a private vehicle, it is by choice which is different with buses.
Has Zimbabwe gone back to the 1990s when government was — following many fatal road crashes — forced to introduce stringent measures like ensuring every bus was fitted with a metal rim that would keep them stable in the event of tyre bursts.
Some operators had their permits cancelled during the same period, after their fleet got routinely involved in fatal road accidents. Government must seriously consider this as an option if buses from the same company get involved in accidents, because surely, there could be something they are not doing right.
The selection of drivers who take charge of public service vehicles must be strictly controlled. Employing easily excitable young people, who may not see anything wrong in speeding, as drivers should never be allowed. The driver of the bus in the Nyamakate case, as reports seem to suggest, was speeding and he failed to negotiate a curve, losing control of the vehicle, which went on to ram into a tree. As such buses must have speed governors fitted on them.
On the other hand, the condition of some of Zimbabwe’s roads, including very busy highways, is deplorable. The Transport ministry, together with local authorities around the country, must take the lead in revamping road signage.
Grass on the side of roads — including highways — must always be cut to size to allow for maximum visibility for the motoring public.
Markings on some roads have completely disappeared heightening the risk of side-swipes.
Traffic police must be visible on the roads and for the right purpose — apprehending drivers for flouting regulations — as opposed to being receptacles of graft and harassment of road users.
Since Zimbabwe has so many rogue drivers, leaving road signs in a bad state will surely turn the roads into jungles.
Motorists would find driving less nightmarish if all road signs are revamped and grass is cut regularly on roadsides.