How a freak road accident stole a family’s Christmas cheer

Tadious Manyepo Features Writer
AFTER realising his childhood dream to become a soldier over a dozen years ago, Enewedy Chawaipira naturally aimed to grow as much as he could in his chosen profession.

Why not, after enduring taxing and gruelling career-advancing courses commensurate with his file in the subsequent years following his attestation into the Zimbabwe National Army in 2005?

After all, he had already been elevated to the rank of Corporal after showing unquestionable dedication and loyalty to duty. But, a more fulfilling dream in the life of a junior non-commissioned officer is arguably getting promoted to a senior-non-commissioned rank.

Not only does the elevation rubberstamp one’s perfect disciplinary record, it also comes with a litany of benefits. Dignity, respect, improved perks, and the like. And 32-year-old Corporal Chawaipira had worked hard in the past 13 years to merit all he had become in his service with the Zimbabwe Signals Corps. He was craving to see the day he would be promoted to the rank of a substantive sergeant.

Having done the core promotional combat courses, Corporal Chawaipira was due to realise another of his long-cherished dreams of being promoted to a sergeant on January 1, 2019. As his wife, Nomsa would confirm, Corporal Chawaipira was very excited about the development, and the whole family couldn’t wait for the New Year when their own breadwinner would become an Army Sergeant.

“He was always talking about it (the promotion). He told me that he was most likely to become a sergeant at the beginning of next year. We all wished him well and we were keenly waiting for the big day to come,” she said.

But what happened before that January was the most unwelcome visitor on mother earth.

Death!

A routine trip back to his workplace in Mutare from the capital earlier last month, aboard a Bolt Cutter bus, ended all the dreams of a future high-ranking official in the ZNA in particular and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in general.

His last text to his wife read, “Always pray for our family dear. We are now in Marondera.”

Less than an hour later at the 166km peg along the Harare-Mutare Highway, in a split second Chawaipira, along with 46 other people, most of whom shared the breadwinners status with him, were dead.

An irresponsible and wayward driving error saw a needlessly speeding Smart Express bus encroaching on to Bolt Cutter bus’ lane, in an attempt to overtake a haulage truck on a prohibited stretch of the road. What followed was a huge bang, screeching, screaming as the two buses sideswiped.

Mangled bodies, including that of Chawaipira, were thrown onto the tarmac, others were trapped inside what remained of both buses. The sight was harrowing. Perplexed onlookers were hesitant to view the scene as the tarmac was plastered with blood, though some rogue witnesses decided to use their cellphones to take pictures of the mishap, which they quickly spread on social media.

The late Enewedy Chawaipira

Yet Cosmas Marembo, the deviant Smart Express driver along with his conductor, took to their heels leaving injured or trapped innocent passengers, who could have survived with a golden-hour aid. Marembo eventually surrendered himself to the police in Rusape amid calls from the public for the courts to give him a deterrent sentence to serve as a stern warning to would-be offenders.

As one of the survivors of that horror crash, Thomas Marura, said, “That driver (Marembo) was largely irresponsible, extravagantly abusive to the passengers as he senselessly defied all our calls for him to at least reduce speed. One of the passengers had to disembark in Rusape protesting the speed at which the driver was travelling.”

While the buck must of necessity stop with the errant Marembo, the driver whose vehicle he was trying to overtake surprisingly didn’t stop to render help after the accident. A truck driver is legally obliged to be retested and to be competent in defensive driving.

Yet, he or was it a she, failed to practise the essence of defensive driving when an accident appeared imminent. Didn’t the truck driver passively cause that crash as well?

For someone who possesses defensive driving skills, there was a lot the trucker could have done to avoid the accident.

Wasn’t it possible for him to apply brakes and let the errant Smart Express driver to quickly overtake before the oncoming Bolt Cutter bus?

This festive season, Chawaipira’s family, like other victims of worryingly increasing road crashes, won’t be enjoying. He was the sole breadwinner and his children, Nenyasha and Kudzwaishe, wish he were there, buying new clothes for them this Christmas as he always did.

But, such is fate, painful and heartrending, especially when a young family is left without a breadwinner due to someone’s negligence behind the wheel.

The country continues to lose its active group who are supposed to help the country attain the mooted middle-income status by 2030. The number of deaths from road crashes shot up by a horrifying 22,28 percent between January and October this year compared to the corresponding period last year.

According to statistics released by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (Traffic Branch), 1 608 people perished on the roads between January and October this year compared to the 1 315 who died in the same period last year. Despite concerted efforts by players such as the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe to reduce road carnage, people continue to lose lives on the roads due to reckless driving.

Sadly, it is the economically productive age-group the country is losing, rendering development a huge blow and disturbing demographics.

TSCZ managing director, Mr Obio Chinyere said a huge chunk of road traffic accidents were caused by human error, particularly incompetent driving.

“It’s very disappointing for the country to continue losing its most productive group due to accidents,” said Mr Chinyere.

“It’s disheartening to see people losing lives on the roads on frequent basis. Our call is loud and clear: let’s be responsible on the roads, especially this festive season when people often lose concentration due to a number of factors.”

Source : The Herald

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