Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Twelve people were killed, while 45 others were injured when an MB Transport bus collided head-on with a haulage truck 45km outside Beitbridge town yesterday in an accident that has since been declared a national disaster.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere — who visited the accident victims at Beitbridge District Hospital and toured the accident scene alongside his State Security counterpart Kembo Mohadi — said the deceased would receive State-assisted funerals with each family getting $200 cash and transport.
“Subsequent to the road traffic accident involving a haulage truck and a bus belonging to MB Transport, which occurred along the Beitbridge-Masvingo highway at the 46km peg in the early hours of April 15 that claimed 12 lives, I have since invoked Section 32 (c) of the Civil Protection Act Chapter 10.06 of 1989 to enable assistance to be rendered to the bereaved.
“Each bereaved family will receive $200 ‘chema’. This assistance is accessible through the District Administrator, Beitbridge District. Further assistance is being provided by Insurance Council of Zimbabwe who have undertaken to meet the hospital bills of the injured and mortuary facilities. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved, and a speedy recovery to the injured.”
Minister Kasukuwere said Government was seized with the issue of dualisation and upgrading of the Beitbridge-Harare Highway with a view to reducing perennial road carnage.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo yesterday sent condolence messages to the bereaved families.
“I wish to convey sincere condolences to the families, friends and relatives of the 12 people who tragically perished in a bus and a haulage truck accident at the 45km peg along the Beitbridge- Masvingo Highway on the 15th of April 2016.
“Our prayers are with those who sustained injuries and we wish them a speedy recovery,” he said.
Minister Gumbo appealed to drivers, especially those of public service vehicles and road users to exercise caution when travelling during the night and early hours of the morning.
“While the ministry together with traditional chiefs and the traffic safety council have embarked on a programme of tagging cattle with reflective ear-tags, the project will take long to reach the rest of the country. We have also determined that with immediate effect, all new road projects will include a component of fencing.
“I must, however, also appeal to all Zimbabweans not to vandalise such fences as this exposes the travelling public to danger,” he said.
Minister Mohadi who is also Beitbridge East constituency legislator described the accident as horrific and sorrowful.
“We are very sorry to the bereaved families about what has happened. We don’t usually come across such disasters and it’s very sad to witness people’s lives being cut short in such a away.
“The Government, through the Civil Protection Unit and the line minister (Local Government) is working flat out to ensure that the victims are accorded state assisted burials,” he said.
The police officer in charge of crime in Beitbridge District, Assistant Commissioner Bobby Murwira, said during a Civil Protection Unit meeting yesterday that the bus was travelling from Harare with 51 passengers on board.
“Upon reaching the 242 km along the Masvingo-Beitbridge Road, the bus hit a donkey and swerved to the side of an on-coming truck resulting in a head-on collision, that killed 10 people on the spot. Two other people died upon admission at Beitbridge District hospital,” he said.
Asst Comm Murwira said 45 others were injured and taken to Beitbridge District Hospital where 13 were transferred to Bulawayo for further treatment.
The District Medical Officer, Mr Lenos Samhere, said 13 others with minor injuries were treated and discharged, while 19 were still at the Beitbridge hospital, and were in a stable condition.
The Member of Parliament for Beitbridge West constituency where the accident occurred, Mrs Metrine Mudau, told villagers to always pen their livestock.
“You will note that most of the accidents around this area are caused by stray animals. It is important that members of the community look after their livestock to avoid such incidents,” she said.
The visibly shaken MB Transport owner, Mr Brian Mungofa, said he was at loss for words, adding that he would provide $300 to each bereaved family.
“My heart is heavy with grief, and I would like to extend my condolences to relatives of those who have departed. As MB Transport we will assist them with $300 and food items,” he said.
Meanwhile, police have released seven names of the 12 victims of the traffic accident, who include a one year, 10 months old baby. Half of them are from Dulibadzimu suburb in Beitbridge.
Those identified are: Mavis Mutizwa (28), Belinda Chapeyama (one year, 10 months baby), Elizabeth Musona (26), Melody Muchaneta Dzongodza (29) all of Beitbridge; Irene Mukuto (30) of Highfield, Harare, Alsum Masvovere (29) of Mbizo, Kwekwe and Ranganayi Garu (23) of Chitungwiza.
In a statement yesterday, chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said those who were missing their relatives should proceed to Beitbridge District Hospital and identify the remaining unidentified five bodies.