4 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Road Carnage - Just Where Is the Police?

column

AT the beginning of the festive season, the police promised the nation to be out in full force on the country's major highways with a zero tolerance approach towards all traffic offences.

However, each time the force issues such warnings, more Zimbabweans needlessly perish on our treacherous roads.

More than 180 people were killed in road accidents since December 15, with Sunday, December 23 making headlines for the deaths of 18 people after a container truck with 63 passengers overturned several times in the Honde Valley.

Where were Zimbabwe's finest and their so-called zero tolerance approach in this melee? How a truck could carry 63 passengers from Harare until it killed them in Manicaland boggles the mind.

How was it allowed to go through the many roadblocks strewn along the highway? Just exactly what do the police check for at roadblocks if the truck was allowed to transport hapless travellers to their deaths?

Why are road fatalities increasing despite the heavy presence of law enforcement agencies? Could it be that our traffic officers are playing Russian roulette with innocent motorists and passengers?

Although most accidents can be attributed to excessive speed, dangerous overtaking, unroadworthy vehicles, and drink-driving, increasing roadblocks alone cannot be the solution to curbing the increasing blood flow on our roads.

After all, these roadblocks have been used to swindle motorists of money instead of enforcing traffic rules and regulations.

Fire extinguishers, reflective jackets and triangles have never prevented accidents, but these are surprisingly the only things our overzealous cops check for whenever they stop motorists.

Most unroadworthy vehicles pass this favourite police checklist and as long as the cops continue to elevate accessories over the actual state of the vehicles, more carnage can be expected come Easter. Worse still, roadblocks and speed cameras are situated at known spots on all highways.

It's high time traffic authorities take additional measures to prevent road accidents, not only during the holiday period, but all year round.

Measures should include increased mobile patrols on our highways to regulate and control the movement of traffic, with particular emphasis on violations related to excessive speed, dangerous overtaking, not wearing safety belts and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Police commanders must re-organise the highway patrol unit by acquiring more patrol vehicles for effective policing. More resources should be deployed to this unit if road accidents are to be reduced. And the motoring public should be discouraged from driving at night. It's known that whenever there is a police car on the road, motorists drive more carefully.

The lack of police patrol presence on the highways is one of the chief causes of most road accidents. It's very rare to see police cars just patrolling and making a presence on the road whenever one is driving.

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