Conrad Mupesa–Mashonaland West Bureau
FOUR people including both drivers died yesterday morning while 67 others were injured when two Zupco buses collided head-on at the 101km from Harare on the Chirundu highway.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the collision occurred at the black-spot known as PaBhutsu. The buses crashed at 7.45am between Banket and Chinhoyi near Dondo River Bridge.
The southbound Zupco bus, which was apparently carrying civil servants and school children from Chinhoyi to Banket, tried to overtake a haulage truck on its way to Banket whilst the other Zupco bus was proceeding north and was unable to avoid the collision. Both drivers died on the spot and their bodies were trapped.
The deceased were taken to Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital mortuary for post-mortem while some of the injured were taken to the same hospital and others to Banket District Hospital for treatment.
By yesterday evening, several people with the most serious injuries were being transferred to Harare for further treatment.
Some of the survivors interviewed by The Herald said both the buses were speeding. Mrs Mwaonei Marumisa, a teacher at Sacred Heart High School, blamed the driver of the bus that plies the Chinhoyi-Banket route for the accident.
“The bus usually ferries civil servants, mostly teachers and health personnel who stay in Chinhoyi but working in Banket. It also services school children who learn in Banket. If you were to do your checks, you would realise that most of the victims were teachers and school children.
“Our driver was reckless, he was speeding and tried to overtake a haulage truck on a blind rise that resulted in the accident,” said Mrs Marumisa, who is nursing multiple injuries.
She said a teacher at Newlands Primary School which is about 150 metres from the accident scene, died in the accident.
Another survivor, Mr Shadreck Chigwida, who was on the bus headed for Zvipani under Hurungwe Rural District Council from Harare, said he was lucky to be alive.
He was seated at the back of the bus together with William Mutimutema and escaped without injuries.
Eyewitnesses said the haulage truck driver tried to warn the bus driver against overtaking by hooting, but he continued to try to pass, resulting in the collision.
Mr Martin Chifo of Newlands, Harare, said both buses went to the extreme side of the road trying to avoid collision.
“The truck driver hooted signalling the bus driver to avoid overtaking but the warning fell on deaf ears.”
Another eyewitness, Mr Petros Falani, said the area had become a blackspot.
Zupco acting chief executive officer Mr Evaristo Madangwa, said Zupco will assist the bereaved families and meet medical bills for the injured.
“The accident is being handled by the police and it is best if we work with one central position so that we don’t have contradicting statements. But we will provide assistance to the bereaved families and the injured,” he said.
Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Mary Mliswa-Chikoka said the provincial Civil Protection Unit had been activated.
“As Government we want to urge our drivers to be cautious on the road and value the sanctity of life. It is important that they follow traffic laws while the passengers should warn the drivers as it is better to be late than to be the late,” she said.
Police and Chinhoyi Municipality fire brigade teams attended the scene where frantic efforts to retrieve the bodies of the drivers spilled into yesterday afternoon.