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Horror bus crash update: 19 perish

By Farirai Machivenyika and Felex Share

NINETEEN people were killed while at least 50 others were injured early yesterday morning when two buses crashed into a stationary truck within seconds of each other 81km from Harare along the Harare-Bulawayo Road.

Of the 19 killed, 13 died on the spot with the other four dying on their way to Chegutu General Hospital.

One other person died at Selous Clinic and another at Parirenyatwa Hospital last night.

The Air Force of Zimbabwe used two Augusta Bell 412 helicopters to airlift eight critically injured people to Parirenyatwa Hospital after being summoned by the local Civil Protection Committee chaired by Chegutu District Admini-strator Mr Michael Mariga.

Platinum giant Zimplats provided two ambulances to help move the injured.

One bus belonging to Musanhi Bus Company was coming from Gokwe while the other, owned by Mandaza, was on its way from Plumtree.

The Musanhi bus was the first to hit the back of the truck and was followed by the Mandaza bus, which was travelling closely behind.

Most people travelling in the Mandaza bus were cross-border traders on their way from Botswana and their goods, including television sets and refrigerators, were damaged on impact.

At the scene of the accident yesterday, scores of people from nearby farms were milling around while the police were scouring through the wreckage of the two buses.

The haulage truck, owned by Two Keys company, was carrying 19,8 tonnes of cotton from Kadoma to Glendale.

“The accident occurred when the buses rammed into the stationery lorry at around 4:30am. Of the 13 who died on the spot, six were in the Musanhi bus while seven were in Mandaza bus,” National Traffic Police spokesperson Inspector Tigere Chigome said.

The truck driver, Glen Makause, said he stopped the truck after four rear wheels of the trailer came off at around 2am.

“The four wheels were loose and they came off so I had to stop but could not move the lorry completely off the road because of that,” he said.

“I then cut off some branches to indicate that the lorry had broken down because I did not have reflectors. I then slept and only woke up when I heard the noise made by the impact of the first bus that rammed into the trailer.”

A survivor who was travelling in the Musanhi bus said the driver realised late that there was a broken-down truck ahead.

“The Musanhi bus driver might not have seen that there was a broken-down truck because there was no proper warning.

“Part of the trailer was in the road and he then rammed into the trailer when he tried to avoid it.

“I was in the Mandaza bus that was just behind and it appears the driver also noticed late that there was a broken-down truck and when he tried to avoid it, the bus hit the trailer before it overturned,” said Onismas Chigumadze, a cross-border trader from Murehwa.

Some of the injured from the Musanhi bus related their ordeal at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

Pindura Rushwaya, who was injured on the head and legs, said there were no warning signs on the road and he thought the bus lights were not working properly.

“Just after Kadoma I warned the driver to reduce speed considering that the lights were faint, but he remained adamant,” he said.

Malvern Chiwasa, who spoke from his hospital bed, blamed the accident on both bus drivers.

“Both buses were speeding. Had the drivers reduced speed the accidents could have been avoided,” he said.

Roy Munyaka, who sustained a fractured leg, had no kind words for the truck driver and called on the relevant authorities to take drastic measures against reckless drivers who are behind the carnage on the country’s major highways.

“How can a sane person park his vehicle like that in the road? At least he should have used visible signs to warn other motorists of the broken down truck,” Munyaka said.

Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo; Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu and Chief Ngezi visited the scene of the accident.

Minister Chombo said the Government had pledged to assist families of the victims of the accident to meet burial costs.

“We are extremely saddened by this tragedy. Our message to motorists is that they should exercise extreme caution, especially those carrying passengers.

“As Government we are going to assist all the affected families with transport, coffins and other logistical assistance.

“We have also directed the chairman of the local Civil Protection Committee that perpetrators of this tragedy be prosecuted and compensate all families adequately,” Minister Chombo said.

The accident comes hard on the heels of another one in Chegutu that occurred two weeks ago when three police detectives died when their vehicle rammed into a stationary lorry.

Another 18 people also perished when a commuter omnibus they were travelling in collided head-on with an army bus a month ago along the Harare-Chirundu Road. The Herald

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