SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Concern Over Holiday Road Carnage

Concern has been raised at the carnage on the nation's roads during the festive season, which saw the death toll rise 100 percent compared to the same period last year.

Over 1,094 accidents were recorded by the police, claiming 172 lives and injuring 894 others. The authorities said the alarming statistics represented a doubling in fatalities.

Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa said there is an urgent need to seriously look at all contributing factors to these accidents and develop a comprehensive strategy to curb this carnage.

However Muchemwa said the problem of rising car accidents is compounded by the fact that the police, who are supposed to ensure the observation of traffic rules, are not doing their job.

He emphasized that most accidents in Zimbabwe are caused by the absence of effective road safety policies and laws.

In one of the accidents seven people died in Marondera last week Friday when a haulage truck rammed into three oncoming vehicles. It is reported the haulage truck driver failed to negotiate a sharp curve and collided with the vehicles.

'The traffic laws are hardly respected in Zimbabwe. Maybe one way to curb the problem is to take tough measures in getting the licence for driving and enforce a harsh law of those violating the rules,' he said.

Major causes of fatal crashes include unsafe and dangerous overtaking, driving under the influence of alcohol as well as excessive speeding. In the UK careless drivers face jail sentences, while in Zimbabwe a modest court fine is all a dangerous driver might get.

'I think there is a need to closely monitor roadworthiness of vehicles, especially those tasked with transporting members of the public. Those found violating traffic laws should receive hefty penalties or face jail terms,' Muchemwa said.

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