Ray Bande Senior Reporter
POLICE have launched a manhunt for the Smart Express bus driver, Cosmas Marembo, who fled the scene together with his conductor following the horrific bus accident which killed 46 people on Wednesday evening.
The accident involving Bolt Cutter and Smart Express buses occurred at around 5.30pm at the 166km peg along the Harare-Mutare Highway.
Manicaland police spokesperson Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa confirmed that they were keen to interview Marembo.
“We are still searching for the Smart Express bus driver Cosmas Marembo who fled together with his conductor soon after surviving the horrific bus accident on Wednesday.
“We appeal to members of the public who could be aware of his whereabouts to contact the nearest police station,” said Insp Kakohwa.
A witness said the driver of the Smart Express bus wanted to overtake a haulage truck and encroached onto the lane of an oncoming Bolt Cutter bus, resulting in a head-on collision.
Management at Smart Express Bus Company said they were ready to compensate and help the injured passengers and families of the deceased.
Smart Express manager Mr Darr Sigauke said the company was still waiting for the identification of the deceased and those injured so they could offer compensation to their families.
He said they were also not aware of their drivers’ whereabouts.
“Police are still identifying the deceased and those injured so that we can compensate them. I am not aware of the whereabouts of our driver yet,” said Mr Sigauke.
“I went to the hospital mortuary and wards looking for him but could not find him. Some people told me that he probably ran away in a state of shock or panic,” he said.
Meanwhile, the public remains concerned about the frequence of accidents involving the same bus company.
Mr Paul Sigauke of Mutare said the needless loss of human lives involving Smart Express Bus Company was worrisome.
“We are worried about the deaths being caused by Smart Express bus accidents. Remember we witnessed another accident recently in Zimunya involving the same company. It was also at the centre of controversy when one person died in Harare at Fourth Street rank. It is not pleasing at all and we are appealing to the powers that be to seriously look into the operations of Smart Express,” said Sigauke.
Touts and fellow bus operators at the Mutare-Harare rank have professed ignorance of the whereabouts of the Smart Express bus driver, Marembo, who reportedly fled the scene after the horrific accident that claimed 46 lives near Rusape on Wednesday.
Smart Express bus owner Mr Charles Makosi refused to speak to the media, referring questions to his manager Mr Darr Sigauke who said he did not know anything about Marembo’s whereabouts. Subsequent calls to his mobile number failed to get through.
Efforts to get a comment from Bolt Cutter bus owner ZRP retired Commissioner Oliver Chibage were fruitless as his mobile number was unreachable.
When The Herald visited the listed Smart Express business address, it turned out to be a residential address, number 13 Longmore, Palmerstone in Mutare and it appeared deserted.
No one answered inquiries at the gate.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa said he did not know where the bus company’s garage was, adding that even the wreck of one of Smart Express buses that was involved in an accident in Zimunya recently killing three passengers was dumped in the open along the way to Vumba.
“I have no idea where their garage is,” he said. “We do not have pictures of either the owner of the buses or the driver.”