Whinsley Masara/Thandeka Moyo, Chronicle Reporter
FORTY-THREE people died on the spot while 30 were injured when a Zambia-bound King Lion bus rammed into a tree in the Nyamakate area in Hurungwe on Wednesday night.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said the bus driver failed to negotiate a curve leading to him losing control of the bus which then hit a tree before overturning.
“Police would like to confirm a fatal road traffic accident involving a King Lion bus which was travelling from Harare to Lusaka, Zambia, which occurred along the Harare-Chirundu Road at the 257km peg near Nyamakate shops, Karoi.
“On approaching the 257km peg the driver failed to negotiate a curve and the bus veered off the road and rammed into a big tree, killing the driver on the spot together with 42 passengers,” she said.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said due to the impact of the crash some of the seats were dislodged and thrown to the front of the bus.
“Five have since been transferred to Harare for further management while 25 are receiving treatment at Chinhoyi and Karoi hospitals and are in a stable condition.
“The bodies of the deceased were conveyed to Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital mortuary for post-mortem,” she said.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said police are investigating the accident and more details will be availed in due course.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said:
“It has been confirmed that we lost 43 people in a disaster in Karoi and I am now dashing there to see the efforts that are being made by the State to help. It is indeed a state of disaster and we have been plunged into mourning.
“Just a few weeks ago we attended a meeting in Mexico with President Mugabe and among the things that we talked about were disasters and these are some of the disasters that we call man-made,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
He said the state of the country’s roads, speeding, lack of attention, tiredness and human faults caused such disasters.
“We have to take extra care as citizens because while there are natural disasters, man-made disasters are a cause for concern that cost us quite a lot.”
The International Cross- Border Traders’ Association immediately called on the Government to withdraw King Lion Bus Company’s passenger permit.
The association’s president, Mr Denis Juru, said the company should be investigated on all accidents that their buses have been involved in over the years.
“This bus company has been involved in too many accidents which add up to a large number of people having died.
“We can’t just sit and watch while it robs the nation of citizens every now and then. We therefore appeal to the Government for immediate intervention before more people die,” he said yesterday.
“It’s sad to lose a life, and it’s even shocking to lose 43 lives at one go. We have been saddened by the death of 43 passengers in the King Lion’s Nyamakate accident today. It is with deep pain that we acknowledge 40 of the deceased were cross-border traders.
“Twenty-two were from Harare, eight from Mashonaland East, seven from Mashonaland Central, two from Masvingo and one from Midlands provinces.”
He said about 60 people had died in King Lion bus accidents since 2014.
Mr Juru alleged speeding was the main cause of the accidents.
“On July 19, 2015, a bus belonging to King Lion killed 12 passengers, 37km from Kafue along Lusaka-Chirundu road in Zambia.
“On July 23, 2014, a King Lion South Africa-bound bus killed two people. The [then] Chronicle business editor, Menart Mafirakureva, was killed when his car collided with a King Lion bus along Masvingo-Harare road near Beatrice. The accident also killed one passenger who was in the bus,” said Mr Juru.
“On June 28, 2014, a King Lion South Africa-bound bus killed two passengers and several were injured. The accident occurred 40km before Masvingo along Harare-Masvingo road. The bus sideswiped with a Pioneer bus which was going north.”
He alleged the incidents were evidence that King Lion bus drivers are not professionally and defensively trained.
A woman who answered the King Lion official Econet number and declined to identify herself said:
“At the moment we have nothing to say to the media but are preparing something for everyone, which will be released soon.”