The nation was on Saturday again plunged into mourning when 21 people died and 48 others were injured when a lorry they were travelling in overturned and rolled several times in Tsholotsho district, Matabeleland North province.
Last June 43 people were killed and 30 others were injured when a Zambian-bound King Lion bus rammed into a tree in the Nyamakate area of Hurungwe in Mashonaland West province. The driver of the Tsholotsho lorry which was carrying malaria control teams, allegedly failed to negotiate a curve resulting in the vehicle overturning and rolling several times.
Some of the people were trapped under the lorry for several hours as rescue teams battled to remove them. The malaria control teams that were on an anti-malaria spraying exercise in the province, were coming from Nkayi on their way to Jimila Clinic in Tsholotsho when the accident occurred.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has since declared the accident a state of disaster to enable various Government arms to mobilise resources to assist those who were injured as well as families of the deceased.
Overloading was largely to blame for the high death toll in the Tsholotsho accident. The pictures before the accident show that the lorry which was also carrying the teams’ camping equipment, tools and consumables, was very full resulting in passengers sitting precariously on top of drums and camping equipment that included tents.
It is clear that the safety of these people was not considered when they were packed like sardines in a lorry which was already full. What worsened the situation, according to survivors, was that the driver of the Nissan UD truck was allegedly speeding despite repeated warnings from the passengers.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care which we understand is involved in the deployment of these malaria control teams, should ensure people’s safety comes first. What happened in Tsholotsho should not be repeated.
The truck was supposed to ferry the camping equipment, tools and consumables and come back for the people to avoid putting the people’s lives at risk as what happened. It is worrying that accidents continue to claim lives and property despite police warnings for drivers to exercise caution while behind the wheel.
According to statistics, 80 percent of road traffic accidents in Zimbabwe are as a result of human error which means they can be avoided. An average of 1 700 people are killed in road accidents in Zimbabwe every year while 30 000 others are injured.
These are very frightening statistics and something should be done urgently to tame the traffic jungle and reduce the carnage on our roads. The passengers on their part should not allow drivers to put their lives at risk by speeding or deliberately flouting traffic rules and regulations as what happened in the Tsholotsho accident.
We want to once again appeal to motorists to avoid putting the lives of passengers at risk.