By Walter Nyamukondiwa
Stakeholders in road management and safety have tabled a raft of measures to reduce road carnage, including computerisation, turning the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe into an authority and reviewing traffic fines.
Other measures are the establishment of a Road Accident Fund to assist accident victims to get medical attention as some are often unprepared for the mishap.
This comes as hundreds of people are dying on the country’s roads, with statistics showing that on average five people die in accidents each day. In an interview, TSCZ board chairman Mr Albert Mugabe said about 90 percent of vehicle accidents were caused by human error, including speeding, fatigue, drunk-driving, misjudgment and general recklessness.
“TSCZ is pursuing the establishment of a Road Accident Fund so that any person involved in a road accident gets medical attention,” he said.
“The council is also exploring the prospect of establishing a ‘Golden Hour’ Emergency Rescue Service where any accident victim should receive assistance within an hour of the accident occurring.”
Mr Mugabe said TSCZ could not execute its duties in its current form and proposals to transform the council into an authority were being finalised. This, he said, would allow it to enforce compliance with road regulations.
“TSCZ is finalising a proposal to become an authority because as a council we lack the jurisdiction to ensure compliance,” said Mr Mugabe. “For instance, the law demands that public passenger vehicles should be fitted with speed governors, but this is generally ignored by operators.”
One of the weaknesses of the country’s regulatory framework, said Mr Mugabe, were low fines whivh were not deterrent enough.
“Traffic fines must be overhauled to reflect the tragic reality of non-compliance,” he said. “Some of our traffic fines are not deterrent enough as compared to the region.
“For example, driving a public passenger vehicle without a licence attracts a penalty of imprisonment in Botswana, yet here it is a $100 fine.”
Mr Mugabe said reflective paint and cat’s eyes should be the base standard for road rehabilitation and new constructions to ensure visibility.
Former Transport and Infrastructure Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson Cde Dexter Nduna said most of the challenges on the country’s roads could be solved by integrating all systems through computerisation.
“Integrating our road management system including Zinara, Vehicle Inspection Department, RMT, Zimra, Central Vehicle Registry, Vehicle Theft Squad and the Zimbabwe Republic Police will be key in addressing some of the challenges we face,” he said.