Shock rise in road traffic accidents • Number shoots up by over 100 000 • Heavy police presence fails to stem surge

Last month, a Lusaka-bound King Lion bus left 45 dead after it veered off the road and ploughed into a tree along the Harare-Chirundu Highway.

Last month, a Lusaka-bound King Lion bus left 45 dead after it veered off the road and ploughed into a tree along the Harare-Chirundu Highway.

Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Reporter
Road traffic accidents went up by over 100 000 last year, while the number of deaths increased by 75 percent despite heavy police presence on the country’s major roads, recent statistics from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) reveal.

Government in March reduced the number of police roadblocks following complaints from motorists, the public and tourists.

In its 2017 First Quarter digest statistics, Zimstat said road traffic accidents increased nearly four times from 45 701 in 2015 to 159 490 in 2016.

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This resulted in an increase in the number of fatalities from 2 368 in 2014 to 9 301 in 2016.

A total of 44 917 people got injured during 2016, up from 12 399 in 2014.

The report further showed that between January and March this year, 319 people died in over 11 000 accidents recorded.

In April this year, a South Africa-bound Proliner bus left 21 people burnt beyond recognition after it side-swiped a haulage truck in Mvuma before catching fire.

Last month, a Lusaka-bound King Lion bus left 45 dead after it veered off the road and ploughed into a tree along the Harare-Chirundu Highway.

According to eyewitnesses, the bus had 76 passengers instead of 69 and was speeding.

Road accident investigators claim that accidents in Zimbabwe are caused by vehicle defects, speeding, animals, following too close to another vehicle, driver fatigue (inattention, misjudgement and distraction), failure to give way and turning in front of oncoming traffic.

However, Home Affairs Deputy Minister Obedingwa Mguni said police have been doing their work “but can only work to certain levels in preventing accidents”.

“Police cannot stop accidents. It is the duty of the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) to check a vehicle’s fitness and road worthiness otherwise police would have done their part,” said Deputy Minister Mguni.

Deputy Minister Mguni urged motorists and the public at large to be responsible and report any road traffic offence, particularly now that Government has reduced the number of roadblocks on the country’s roads.

“The problem that comes with reducing roadblocks is that motorists become complacent to observing traffic regulations. People must know that the police are on the roads to enforce the law,” he said.

He said reducing the number of roadblocks, therefore does not mean people should stop being responsible.

“The day we withdrew some details on the roads, there was a horrific accident on the Mutare highway and just today I saw a taxi driving in the opposite direction, which is a clear indication of reckless driving,” said Deputy Minister Mnguni.

According to the same Zimstat report, the number of road traffic crimes has also been on the increase with 445 people fined for reckless driving in 2016 up from 266 in 2013.

A total of 128 cases have already been recorded between January and March this year for reckless driving.

The number of negligent driving cases have also been increasing from 2 979 in 2013 to 6 312 in 2016.

A total of 1 733 cases of negligent driving have been recorded in the first quarter of 2017.

However, cases of other criminal activities such as robberies, armed robbery, and possession and selling of dangerous drugs have been going down.

According to the report, cases of people caught in possession of dangerous drugs have gone down from a high of 3 462 in 2013 to 236 in 2016.

Thirty-five people have so far been arrested for possessing dangerous drugs between January and March this year.

The report further showed a decline in the number of people caught supplying these dangerous drugs from 292 in 2013 down to eight in 2016 and since the beginning of the year, only two people were arrested for selling dangerous drugs.

On robberies, the report showed a decline in recorded cases from 6 925 cases in 2013 to 2 583 in 2016.

Armed robberies also declined from 554 cases in 2013 down to 214 in 2016.

“The figures given are crimes reported to the police for the periods shown. They are national total derived from reports from all stations,” reads the Zimstat report.

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  • Development Proponent

    This is what we have always said. Our police must not be on the road to collect revenue. That is so wrong. Furthermore, traffic cops must be licensed drivers themselves preferably with a minimum of 5 years driving experience. That way they understand better the dynamics on the roads and would know what to look at. Looking at some sticker on some 2015 Ford Ranger single cab or some 2010Toyota Hilux being driven by a mature 45 year old whilst a visibly unroadworthy Toyota Hiace being driven by a 24 year old young man visibly high on something passes by is the height of irresponsibility. Our road accidents are being caused by Mushikashikas and Kombis most of which are now owned by the cops themselves. One effective roadblock is worth a thousand of these silly spike wielding stops dotted around Zimbabwe. Back to basics fellow Zimbabweans.

  • eliah

    Very sad indeed and this is food for thought for Chihuri as it does not make sense that at the same time the number of accidents is going up ,the number of police road blocks had also increased. It is therefore apparent that the police are pursuing other agendas on the road which are different from checking road-worthiness of vehicles ,routing out drunk drivers etc.

  • Motorist

    The number of roadblocks doesn’t reduce accidents. It is the quality of roadblocks in terms of human capital and mandate. Roadblocks are not supposed to be toll gates. That mandate is for ZINARA.

  • muparavanda

    Nothing has been said about the poor state of roads which is the major contributing factor here. Why is that?

  • jcb

    Motorist taura hako. I was delayed by the traffic cops for a 30cm scratch on my windscreen vatoshaya kuti ongoenda here asina chaasiya.. Apa ndaida kunobata consultation. You know what happened after I paid the fine, I had to catch up for the lost minutes and I was now cruising averaging 160 to 200km/hr. I had to. Reason being my car has got all what it takes for to do so. People might criticize me or whatever I will do as I feel is the right thing to do for my sack. A 4hour or 5 hour journey now takes at least 7hours because of these unnecessary roadblocks. Mzembi is right. Pasi ne maroadblocks asiri necessary. Motorist always want to catch up time. period.

  • jcb

    On another day I was told that the volume of your radio tells that you were speeding and I said yes. VAKATSVAKA just everything fire ext saz valid date, rev lights ,jag, sparewheel, radio L, hazards, indicators, honey comb reflectors, headlamps deep and flash, reverse lights, Tyres(apa there was Michelin R17 brand new) vest, Spanner, two triangles breakdown. hooter ummmmmm imagine kuti unewa delaywa zvakadii wonzi chifamba 120km/hr my foot.

  • yowe

    Solution let us increase roadblocks

  • kutototo

    The number of roadblocks was never reduced in march as reported in this article, Herald get your facts right.

  • maita

    Its because police concentrate on the trivia of the poor than the major road accident causes. Considering the number of police check points how did that truck in Dema not have triangles, why do we continue to see haulage trucks and buses with one headlamp or one bright light in the center yet they have passed through several police checkpoints? They terrorise one for a broken window winder as if not opening a window can cause an accident. They will bother you for a wrong reflector yet a whole truck without tail lights pass through a road block.They can be stationed 10 meters from a non functioning robot but will never control traffic. It really shows our police have lost focus.