Passengers’ and pedestrians’ lives matter

Phillipa Jaja

Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) president, Tafadwa Goliati has bemoaned the lack of regard for passengers and pedestrians safety in the wake of two road traffic accidents involving learners that took place this month.

“We are perturbed by the conduct of these drivers who are continuously showing contempt for the welfare of passengers and pedestrians alike,” he said.

Goliati identified alcohol abuse as one of the reasons for the negligent conduct being displayed by most drivers especially those in the public transport sector.

 “Most of them spend time imbibing these cheap spirits and wines which they disguise by putting in energy drinks containers. This is why they are increasingly engaging in these reckless tendencies such as driving towards oncoming vehicles,” said the PAZ president.

He outlined measures that the government and the police should adopt to lessen the scourge.

 “I urge our government to buy breathalyser machines to gauge alcohol content in these drivers’ systems. This will ensure that they stop over drinking at work.

On that same note, police must stop impartiality when enforcing laws against errant drivers. Or better still offenders should have their licences confiscated. Most of them have no licences or have fake ones. They flout traffic laws yet they go scot free,” he added.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a Road Safety Performance Review in January this year which highlighted that Zimbabwe has the highest road crash mortality rate among its neighbours averaging 35 per 100 000.

The report reveals that at least five people die in road traffic accidents every 24-hours in Zimbabwe, giving the country the worst mortality rate in the SADC region.

The police also confirmed an increase in road traffic accidents with 2 500 hit and run accidents in the first half of this year resulting in 984 deaths so far.

Zimbabwe has a list of traffic offenses such as exceeding speeding limits, driving without due care and attention or reasonable consideration for others and throwing of articles at or from vehicles and interference with drivers. However there are not much of a deterrent as the stipulated fine for the offences are too low.

 For example, driving through a red traffic light costs ZWL2 000.

As a result, it is now widely perceived that most offenders use these low fines as scales to weigh the consequences resulting in more road traffic accidents.

This is more evident in pirate public transport operators popularly known as mushikashikas who drive against oncoming vehicles and have no respect for traffic lights or even fellow motorists. They also engage in the illegal picking and dropping of passengers.

However, there is also the issue of increased vehicle population against the available road infrastructure that is aiding road crash deaths in the country. This has brought about major road problems such as congestion.

According to TSCZ about 30% of all urban traffic accidents occur at road intersections because of congestion.