ZIMBABWE joins the rest of the world in celebrating the Easter holidays beginning Friday and we call on motorists and drivers of public transport vehicles to exercise extreme caution on the roads.
It has been a particularly bad time for the country in as far as accidents are concerned lately with last week’s horrific crash along the Harare-Beitbridge road proving once again that our roads have become death traps. Twenty-one people were burnt beyond recognition while 40 others were critically injured when a South Africa-bound Proliner Bus side-swiped with a haulage truck and caught fire near Mvuma.
The accident happened at the 218km peg along the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway at about 9PM on Wednesday last week. Described as the worst ever mishap on the country’s roads, the accident saw police engaging the National University of Science and Technology for DNA identification of victims.
The horrific crash, while it can be put down to human error, could have been avoided if the highway had been dualised. The Harare-Beitbridge road has recorded some of the worst accidents in the country’s history because it is too narrow in some sections. Given the huge volume of traffic along that highway, we believe its dualisation is long overdue.
In that vein we are glad that the process to dualise it will soon begin in earnest following reports that President Mugabe will commission the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Chirundu highway next month. The project, expected to cost an estimated $2,7 billion, will take three years to complete with initial works from Beitbridge Border Post already underway.
We welcome this development and urge Government — funds permitting — to prioritise the country’s entire road network as it is in dire need of rehabilitation and repair. The heavy rains experienced this season destroyed critical infrastructure such as roads and bridges necessitating the need to marshal resources for its repair.
As we approach the Easter holidays, there will be a sharp increase in traffic on the country’s roads as holiday-makers travel to different destinations to be with friends and family. There will be huge church gatherings while Zimbabweans in the diaspora will take the opportunity to be with their loved ones back home. Traffic will be heavy from tomorrow at border posts like Beitbridge and Plumtree with the highways leading from these areas teeming with vehicles of all shapes and sizes.
We urge motorists to observe road rules and regulations, be patient with each other and avoid speeding as this might lead to more carnage. They should also be on the lookout for cows, donkeys and other livestock. The police have appealed to motorists to adhere to road rules and we call on motorists to heed their advice.
National chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said traffic cops would be deployed to deal with law breakers and urged motorists to co-operate with police when stopped at roadblocks to avoid inconveniences. “As we approach Easter and Independence holidays, the ZRP would like to appeal to all motorists to value human lives on the roads and drive safely. Police will be deployed in all the country’s major highways so as to curb speeding, overloading and other accident-contributing factors. Police will check for traffic violations, stolen vehicles, drug traffickers and cattle rustlers,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba.
“Drivers should observe road rules and regulations and ensure that their motor vehicles are roadworthy. Members of the public are urged to carry identity particulars when travelling.”
She said property owners should leave their premises under guard if they intend to travel while parents and guardians must leave their children, particularly the girl child in the custody of mature and responsible people, if they are not travelling with them. “We are appealing to members of the public to report drivers who speed and flout road rules on Police General Headquarters number (04) 70361 or at their nearest police station so as to safeguard lives. Together we can make our lives safe,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba.
“Let us strive to prevent crime during the holidays and also to drive to arrive alive on the road. Police will ensure that criminals are accounted for while at the same time there is order and sanity on the roads.”
We applaud the police for striving to ensure an incident-free Easter and Independence holiday. Members of the public and motorists should cooperate with law enforcement agents because the police are there to serve them and ensure their well-being and safety.
Of concern is the adversarial relationship between motorists and traffic cops which is fuelled by the latter’s propensity for bribe-taking. We feel the police are shooting themselves in the foot by allowing a few bad apples to tarnish their image. Such malcontents should be weeded out from the force so that the ZRP retains its image as one of the most disciplined organisations on the continent.