EDITORILA COMMENT: Support accident victims’ fund set up

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Accidents on Zimbabwe’s roads continue to claim lives and property and this is very disturbing. Zimbabweans have been complaining of too many police roadblocks so the accidents cannot be blamed on police’s failure to enforce traffic rules and regulations.

On Tuesday five people died when a Toyota Quantum they were travelling in burst a rear tyre and rammed into a tree at the 110km peg along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road. The Toyota Quantum which was pulling a loaded trailer was coming from South Africa and most of the passengers were travelling to their rural homes in the Dandanda area of Lupane district, Matabeleland North Province. Witnesses said passersby rescued some of the people who were trapped before the arrival of the Fire Brigade from Bulawayo.

The Lupane accident is one of the many accidents so far witnessed on our roads. Last June 43 people were killed in a bus accident in Hurungwe, Mashonaland West province while 30 others were injured. The Zambian- bound King Lion bus rammed into a tree in the Nyamakate area in Hurungwe killing the 43 people on the spot.  According to survivors of the bus accident, the driver who was among those killed, was speeding.

Last April 31 people were killed when a South Africa-bound bus was sideswiped by a haulage truck at Nyamatikiti River near Chaka business centre in Chirumanzu, Midlands province. 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 on Zimbabwean roads annually while 30 000 others are injured. The statistics are very frightening and something should be done urgently to reduce the carnage on our roads.

The latest accident has renewed debate on the proposed establishment of a fund to assist accident victims and their families. The establishment of the fund to be known as the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, is in line with the United Nations Decade of Road Safety action plan.

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development proposed the establishment of the fund last June but there are reports that insurance companies are strongly opposed to the establishment of the fund.

The Ministry said the fund was meant to address post-crash phase challenges which include delays in securing rescue ambulance services and lack of resources to assist the injured to be admitted to hospital. Most people involved in accidents, the Ministry noted, have no medical insurance so they will be cushioned by the fund.

The fund will also meet the costs incurred by emergency medical service organisations. The establishment of the accident fund, as we have said before, is long overdue given that many Sadc countries already have such a fund in place.

Emergency rescue service providers and the medical fraternity should be guaranteed payment to enable them to swiftly respond to distress calls and treat the injured. The fund apart from paying for such services, will also assist families of accident victims.

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