During the peak of this year’s rainy season, popular radio and television personality Kanyemba Bhonzo made headlines on social media after he survived death by a whisker following attempts to cross a flooded river in Mudzi.
BY Jairos Saunyama
Bhonzo, who was in a Toyota Landcruiser pick-up being driven by his brother, dared nature and tried to cross the river despite warnings from the community and other motorists. The vehicle was swept away by the swelling waters.
Bhonzo reportedly admitted that they dared nature by putting faith in their all-terrain vehicle.
His case is one of the many in the country where motorists have not been heeding calls to obey road rules and listen to instructions for their own safety.
With the country’s roads now littered with potholes, motorists have found a scapegoat while ignoring their own behaviour on the road.
Human error, not potholes, has been the major cause of road accidents in the country.
Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) marketing officer Tatenda Chinoda said there was need to “dualise” the mindsets of drivers who often blame the occurrence of road accidents on things that they do not have evidence of.
“We carried out a research to prove a point, people are approaching issues to do with road safety emotionally. They blame the driver, they blame the road, they blame the vehicle without any evidence. The evidence that we have is that the Plumtree-Mutare Highway has recorded the highest number of road crashes, it was because the road is good, and everyone thought that they can literally fly.
“So when we talk about the need to dualise the Beitbridge-Chirundu Highway, we also need to dualise the minds and attitudes of motorists and know that human error is our greatest enemy,” Chinoda said.
According to a research paper titled Critical Analysis of the Road Traffic Crashes In Zimbabwe-A Reflection Of The 2016 Road Traffic Collision Statistics recently done by the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ), the newly-refurbished highway tops the list of roads with the highest number of accidents.
The Plumtree-Harare Road recorded 367 crashes, while Harare-Mutare had 202 to give a total of 569 fatal crashes.
According to the research paper, human error remains largely to blame for more than 90% of all road traffic crashes in 2016. On human error causes, speeding caused 9 829 crashes (27%); inattention and misjudgment recorded
6 776 crashes (18%); tailgating resulted in
5 759 crashes (15%); failure to give way 4 402 crashes (11%); overtaking error
3 724 crashes (9%); reversing error 2 368 crashes (5%); and others 5 762 accidents (15%).
Transport and Infrastructure Development deputy minister Michael Madhanha recently said motorist should adhere to road rules.
“It is worrying that motorists lack discipline on the roads. They should not undermine roads rules and traffic signs, they should be obeyed. Good behaviour on the roads ensures that there will be reduction of accidents in the country,” he said.
Research suggests that, Zimbabwe has around a million vehicles and is losing more than 1 000 people annually, while Sweden with millions of cars only records less than 400 deaths.
On Wednesday morning, five people died on the spot and 17 others were injured when a Mutare bound Inter Africa bus rammed into a tree at Shamhu area in Nyazura. The bus driver allegedly fell asleep on the wheel and lost control of the bus before it rammed into a tree, killing five passengers on the spot.
Under normal instances, drivers are expected to rest if they feel they fatigued while long distance buses should have at least two drivers.
Meanwhile, TSCZ has embarked on a countrywide road safety campaign conscientising young people of the best road use practices in a move meant to curb road carnage.
Recently, scores of junior parliamentarians converged at Karimazondo Campsite in Marondera where they were equipped with knowledge on road safety. The beneficiaries are expected to take the acquired know-how to their constituencies, a move meant to minimise loss of lives on the country’s major roads.
Hwata Senator Tanyaradzwa Mubobo (17) said the constituencies need necessary knowledge on road safety and that young people should lead in awareness campaigns.
“We learnt of possible solutions to road carnage, and we are going back to the constituencies as children, with the needed knowledge that we intend to impart to the people so that the country becomes a better place and child-friendly,” she said.
Total Zimbabwe sustainable development manager Godwin Musora, whose company has been sponsoring road safety campaigns in the country, said road traffic accidents are avoidable and there is need for a multi-sectoral approach to deal with carnage.
“Road accidents are preventable and avoidable in spite of the wrong actions of others. Human error remains the major cause of our road carnage. Let us all work together to eradicate human error, it is everyone’s responsibility including the young people,” he said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the workshop, Chinoda said the “catch them young” concept will go a long way in spreading road safety messages to the people so that deaths on the country’s roads will be reduced.
“We are reaching out to the young ones, the junior parliamentarians in their constituencies are going to be our ambassadors on road safety. As they debate in their junior parliamentary sessions they also address how everyone can be a thinking road user, how we can inculcate road safety among youths and then to the adults,” he said.
According to TSCZ, schools can now host learners drivers licence lessons where Vehicle Inspection Department officials will lead proceedings before sitting for the exam at the same school.