New age limit for  kombi, bus drivers Minister Felix Mhona

Trust Freddy Herald Correspondent

Bus and kombi drivers will have to be aged 30 and above, under new plans to raise the minimum age for all public service drivers as Government moves to tackle the rising number of traffic accidents and fatalities, largely attributed to reckless driving.

By increasing the minimum age, Government hopes to ensure that only mature and experienced drivers are behind the wheel of public service vehicles.

This move comes as the country grapples with over 2 000 road traffic accidents-related deaths annually, with negligent driving being the leading cause.

Speaking during the Question and Answer session in the Senate last Thursday, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Felix Mhona said the Ministry was trying to see how it could synchronise the age limit of those who would then drive public service vehicles.

“I am sure the legal department in my Ministry is working with the Attorney General in that regard and we are saying for public vehicles, we were sticking to 25 years and we are now advocating to increase,” he said.

“Within the SADC region, the minimum age is 30 years for public service vehicles and that will then address the overzealousness of some of these drivers that are driving our public service vehicles.”

Minister Mhona expressed concern over the alarming accident statistics, adding that the country cannot sustain the loss of nearly five lives per day.

“We are losing close to 2 000 per annum in terms of fatalities, which is not sustainable and when it comes to the monetary element, we are losing close to US$406 million per year towards fatalities, injuries, hospitalisations and even causing unnecessary burden to beneficiaries,” said Minister Mhona.

In separate interviews, commuters support the proposal to raise the minimum age limit for public service drivers.

“Government should expedite this welcome development,

Mr Ashwin Chigombe from Hopley, Harare, said: “Some of these young bus drivers are reckless on the road, treating public service vehicles like sports cars.”

Ms Molleen Muzekezeke of Glen View 7, said most public service drivers are under 25 and when you try to stop them from speeding, “they either reduce speed to 20km/h or refuse to listen, and sometimes even increase their speed instead”.

Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators (GHACO) chairman, Mr Ngoni Katsvairo, said: “Experience and maturity come with age, which is why the constitution stipulates that one must be 40 years or older to be considered for Presidential election candidacy.”

However, Zimbabwe Union of Drivers and Conductors (ZUDCO) president, Fradreck Maguramhinga said while the proposal was noble, the country does not have a lot of drivers that are over 25-years-old.

“While we understand the need for more mature drivers, we have very mature drivers between 25 and 30 years old,” he said.

“The majority of drivers who are being reckless are below 25 and we propose maintaining the 25-year age limit for small public service vehicles like commuter omnibuses, as drivers tend to prefer heavy-duty trucks and buses once they reach 30.”

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