Nonsikelelo Moyo, Chronicle Reporter
A Zambian haulage truck driver whose vehicle was burnt to a shell on Saturday night has said he narrowly cheated death as the truck caught fire soon after he retired to bed in it.
Mr Siachamba Kantini (25), who is employed by Shaan Carriers, a Zambian company, is one of the scores of truck drivers who had parked along the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo road near Victoria Falls Truck Stop waiting for clearance to cross the border.
The truck was loaded with coal and only the horse was burnt.
Mr Kantini refuted claims making rounds on social media that the truck horse caught fire due to a gas stove he was using to cook his supper.
“I went to Hwange during the day to collect some documents which they wanted at the border. It’s not true that I was cooking when the fire broke out. Instead I had my supper in Hwange and when I came back I went into the horse to sleep. Suddenly I smelt smoke and as I was trying to figure out what was happening the whole horse was on fire,” he said.
Mr Kantini, who lost all his belongings including travel documents and paperwork for the truck and clearance for the load he was carrying, said he suspects that the truck had an electrical fault.
The fire brigade attended to the scene although they could not give details about findings from the scene.
Officer Commanding Victoria Falls District, Chief Superintendent Jairos Chiwona said: “I can confirm there is a truck that caught fire on Saturday. We are not sure what caused it. No foul play is suspected for now and we stand guided by the fire experts on what could have caused the accident.”
Other drivers who spoke to a Chronicle news crew at the scene on Sunday morning expressed concern about delays by border officials to clear them.
“Such incidents are bound to happen especially when we camp for a week. As it is we’ve been here for the past three days waiting for clearance but nothing seems to be happening. We end up spending all our pocket money,” said one driver on condition of anonymity.
Zimbabwe and Zambia governments launched a joint Kaza Uni visa where travellers and truckers have to be cleared at one point to reduce time spent at the border.
However, there have been concerns that border authorities on the Zimbabwean side are generally slow in clearing travellers and as such travellers are not enjoying the benefits of the Uni visa.