The Herald (Harare)

1 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Road Carnage - Police Presence Increased

GOVERNMENT has increased the visibility of law enforcement agencies on the country's major roads to curb road accidents that have so far claimed 166 people. Speaking at a Press conference in Harare yesterday Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche said Government was concerned with the increased number of deaths compared to 2011.

He said it was disturbing to note that road fatalities were increasing during this period despite the heavy presence of law enforcement agencies.

Since December 15 2012, 867 people have been injured in 1 030 accidents.

The accidents have been attributed to speeding and human error.

"In this respect, I want to point out that we have since increased the presence of traffic safety council personnel to remind the public on the dos and don'ts of driving.

"Further, we have since increased the presence of vehicle inspecting officers to enforce road-worthiness. While we have no intention of disrupting the smooth flow of traffic under these circumstances we have no choice but to increase our presence on the road in the interest of preserving precious lives," he said.

Minister Goche reminded public service vehicle operators to ensure that vehicles are roadworthy, avoid speeding and overloading.

He also urged them to stick to their routes and time tables.

Minister Goche warned drivers to avoid drinking while on duty and to observe all traffic rules and regulations.

He appealed to motorists to exercise caution during the remainder of the holiday.

Minister Goche said the situation should be of major concern to every Zimbabwean, particularly drivers.

"It is the duty of every motoring Zimbabwean to adhere to safe driving, and that way we all contribute towards saving precious lives."

Deputy officer commanding national traffic police Assistant Commissioner Kenny Mthombeni said so far police had impounded 1 196 unroadworthy vehicles.

He said most of the vehicles were parked at various police stations countrywide.

He said the force would continue to be heavily deployed on the roads until sanity prevailed.

Asst Comm Mthombeni called on the public to report any plain-clothes officer seen enforcing traffic laws.

"The unit does not have officers who carry out their duties in civilian attire but in uniforms. I would like to urge the public to report anyone they see operating in civilian attire," he said.

The press conference was attended by senior officers from the Vehicle Inspection Department, Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe National Road Administration.

Meanwhile, national police spokesperson Superintendent Andrew Phiri said during this period they arrested 780 people for driving while using cellphones and seven others for drunken driving.

He said a total of 10 826 people were also made to disembark from public service vehicles they were in for overloading.

"There has been an outcry from members of the public that we were not doing anything on overloading but we are dealing with the issue," Supt Phiri said.

He said some of the public service vehicles pick up more passengers on their way to various destinations even after being arrested and fined.

According to police statistics a total of 11 687 tickets have been issued.

Supt Phiri urged motorists to continue exercising caution and ensure that their vehicles were in good condition before driving them.

During the same period in 2011, 67 people were killed while 729 others were injured in 986 accidents recorded countrywide.

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