By Debra Matabvu
Cross-border and inter-city bus companies will be prohibited from operating between 9pm and 5am as part of measures Government is crafting to curb road carnage.
Illegal taxis, commonly referred to as mushika-shika, will be taken off the road permanently. Stiff penalties will also be introduced for overloading, speeding and defective vehicles.
Authorities are tweaking these proposals for onward transmission to Cabinet which is likely to deliberate on them within a fortnight. A Government official who preferred anonymity told The Sunday Mail last week:
“The draft proposes that driving for public transporters stop at 9pm and resume around 5am. Discussions around the issue are still underway as some are opposing the idea, arguing that it is not good for business.
“The proposal has been taken from other countries such as Zambia, which prohibit public transporters from operating after 9pm.”
Civil Protection Unit director Mr Nathan Nkomo confirmed the proposals, but would not be drawn into commenting further.
“A Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management came up with a position paper that contains a raft of measures which will try to address the carnage issue,” Mr Nkomo said.
“We have realised that most road carnage is being caused by human error. So, we are working on how best to curb speeding, overloading and removing unroadworthy vehicles from the roads. We have also included stiffer penalties for urban transport such as illegal taxis as they are contributing to deaths. All this comes against the backdrop of several accidents that have killed many of our people this year.”
Mr Nkomo said road traffic accidents cost Zimbabwe millions of US dollars yearly.
“We are supposed to receive US$2,7 million from Treasury as part of this year’s disbursements (to road traffic accident victims’ compensation). However, we have not yet received anything.
“Since January 2017, we have been helping families with burial assistance for their loved ones while mainly relying on donor funds.
“For the Mvuma accident, for instance, Government used over US$20 000 on DNA tests only. So, these measures will also help save meagre resources and channel them to other areas of need.”
Last April, 31 people were killed when a South Africa-bound bus they were travelling on was side-swiped by a haulage truck and caught fire near Mvuma.
Two months later, 43 perished when a King Lion bus en route to Zambia rammed into a tree along the Harare-Chirundu Road.
On Thursday, 11 people were killed in Kamativi when the lorry they were travelling in burst a tyre, veered off the road and plunged into a gorge. All the accidents occurred at night. The Sunday Mail