By Thupeyo Muleya
Thirty-four people cheated death early yesterday morning when a Greyhound cross-border bus they were travelling in caught fire at the 35-kilometre peg along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo Road.
The incident occurred in Mtetengwe area at around 7am when the bus was travelling from South Africa to Bulawayo with 34 people on board.
Police Officer Commanding Beitbridge district Chief Superintendent Tichaona Nyongo confirmed the incident and said they were still investigating the matter.
“The information we have is that the bus was travelling towards Bulawayo from South Africa with 34 passengers,” he said.
“When it got to the 298km peg along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road (35km out of Beitbridge town) the driver realised that the dashboard lights had suddenly gone off.
“He then checked his rear view mirror and noticed some flames coming from the back where the engine is located, prompting him to stop the bus.
“He immediately opened all the doors for the passengers to disembark. Fortunately, no one was harmed, but the bus and the trailer carrying an assortment of goods were reduced to shells.”
Sources who attended the scene said the value of the goods, the bus and trailer were yet to be ascertained.
However, on average, a used double-decker bus costs between R900 000 and R1,5 million in South Africa, while a new bus costs between R3 million and R4,5 million.
The incident comes a few months after 42 people were burnt to death while 27 others sustained injuries after a Musina-bound bus they were travelling in caught fire near West Nicholson in November last year.
The Brooklyn Bus caught fire from a suspected explosion of a gas cylinder at the 181-kilometre peg along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road,.
In January this year, six people, among them two minors, were burnt to death when a Ford Bantam they were travelling in veered off the road, hit a tree and caught fire at the 35km peg along the Beitbridge-Masvingo Road.
The vehicle was travelling from South Africa heading for Chitungwiza when tragedy struck soon after leaving Beitbridge Border Post. The Chronicle