Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
SMART Express Bus Company has provided $10 000 to assist families of the Rusape bus accident that claimed 46 lives on Wednesday this week, and left dozens injured.
The accident occurred at the 166km peg along the Harare-Mutare Highway and involved Bolt Cutter and Smart Express buses.
Smart Express owner Mrs Arima Mkwamba said the money was their contribution towards assisting the families of the deceased and the injured.
The donation was handed over to the Civil Protection Unit, through the office of the Manicaland provincial administrator, Mr Edgar Seenza.
Mr Seenza said the money would be disbursed to the families of the deceased at Rusape Hospital when they came to collect the bodies of their loved ones.
Government has provided $25 000 towards the cause while the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe (ICZ) will settle all hospital bills. FSG and Nyaradzo Funeral Services are assisting with coffins and transporting the deceased to their final resting places. The total monetary assistance to each bereaved family is currently $1 350.
Meanwhile, Mrs Mkwamba has blamed the accident on recklessness on the part of the driver, identified as Cosmas Marembo.
Mrs Mkwamba said the company was deeply saddened by the loss of lives.
“We never thought our buses would be involved in an accident of this magnitude and it is really a sad development. This is happening because of reckless driving,” she said.
“The name of our buses, ‘Smart’, means we are operating a clean business. My family and I have never used any juju to enhance our business. We run a clean business. It is unfortunate that we have been a victim of so many accidents in a short space of time.”
Smart Express manager Mr Derick Sigauke said the company always instructed its drivers to exercise caution on the road and to drive within the stipulated speed limits but sometimes the drivers behaved differently.
He said Marembo had been with the company for over a year and was one of their best drivers.
He denied claims that the company was setting daily targets for its crews, which pushed them to speed to meet them.
“We do not set targets for our drivers and we never force them to go to Harare and come back to Mutare on the same day. If the bus cannot come back we urge the crew to sleep over in Harare and return the following day,” he said.
“This particular driver has been with us since we started the Beitbridge-Mutare route over a year ago and he has never had a problem. He was a Zupco driver for more than 10 years before joining us.”
Meanwhile, Marembo has handed himself over to Rusape Traffic Police, The Herald has learnt.
According to Manicaland provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa, Marembo handed himself over to the police at around 2pm on Wednesday afternoon.
“For now we cannot talk of the charges that he is facing because investigations are still in progress,” said Insp Kakohwa.