Edward Major Kuyipa – Head of Communication and Dissemination of Cedarwood Memorial Trust
The deaths and injuries due to road carnage involving passenger service vehicles such as buses or commuter omnibuses on our roads and more specifically our highways are regrettable. Of major concern is the fact that the major cause of road mortality and morbidity is negligence, commonly known as the human factor.
Recently, families lost their breadwinners, mothers, fathers, and children on the Harare/Chirundu highway, and this tragedy touched the hearts of all who received the news. The accident involved two ZUPCO buses, a company whose motto is “safe and reliable transport”.
One of the drivers involved, known as “Rasta” a street lingo commonly bestowed on those that have dreadlocks, is purported to have gained notoriety for overspeeding on the Harare/ Norton route that he formerly plied. Hyperbolically, he could drive from Norton to Harare in the blink of an eye. Rasta’s infamy as a bus driver, who drove passengers whilst they had their ‘hearts in their hands’ ended on this particular accident. It is very likely that his supervisors or management were aware of this and the overspeeding in general of a number of drivers commandeering the fairly new Belarus armada.
Road safety does not happen by accident. Most road accidents are avoidable. When a bus carrying dozens or more than a hundred passengers becomes involved in a road crash, the consequences will be unimaginably terrible. Each individual is a community and when at times fifty or a hundred people die or are injured in a road crash the tragedy replicates. It affects, individuals, families, communities, and organizations. The loss of property, including buses that will never be replaced at a time when transport crisis prevails and the call upon the civil protection unit’s intervention, cannot be equated to the permanent loss of lives or injuries or trauma but this cannot be ignored.
One truth that stands out cannot be denied, that in almost all instances, OVERSPEEDING is mentioned when road accidents that lead to deaths, and those involving buses occur. Other factors are overtaking blind curves. Thus, the accident rarely occurs because of the defect on the bus itself, for instance, brake failure and tire bursts- it’s a defect of judgment- or because of environmental challenges such as poor visibility, or road conditions such as narrow roads and potholes.
Drivers should not forget to remember that they have responsibility and accountability for the lives of the passengers they will be carrying as well as those of other road users. Given that most lives lost on the highway were due to overspeeding and other forms of negligence what is required is for drivers to undergo behavioral change. ZUPCO and other passenger service vehicle companies must monitor their drivers and discipline those that demonstrate errant behavior.
Furthermore, part of full closure for victims of road carnage is comprehensive investigations and recommendations that hopefully can prevent or reduce future incidences.