Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
MOTORISTS who will be caught speeding during the Easter Holidays will not be ticketed on the spot but arrested, barred from continuing with their journeys and prosecuted.
In addition, unroadworthy and overloaded vehicles will be impounded as police get tough in the wake of the increase in the number of accidents that have continued to claim lives on the country’s roads. The exercise will be rolled out this week when traffic on the country’s roads is expected to increase ahead of the Easter Holidays that start on Friday.
The maximum speed allowed on Zimbabwe’s roads is 120km/hour on highways for small cars while trucks and buses are allowed to go up to 80 km/hour. National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said police will not stop at anything to ensure that road traffic regulations are adhered to.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba cited speeding as one of the major causes of accidents in the country, pointing to last week’s accident between a bus and a haulage truck in Chirumanzu district (Mvuma) which claimed the lives of 21 people while 43 others were injured. She said police would increase their presence on roads during the Easter holidays, armed with speed traps, and offending motorists would be dealt with accordingly.
“The major cause of accidents on our roads is speeding. We are going to be serious about this and arrest speeding drivers. Yes, the law says we must give tickets, but we are going to be tough. We won’t let you drive if you are caught speeding,” she said.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said police would also impound all unroadworthy vehicles, urging motorists to ensure that their vehicles were not defective before they drive. She also warned operators of public service vehicles against overloading passengers.
“Let me issue a stern warning to all public service vehicle operators against overloading passengers. We will be tough and not allow you to proceed. All unroadworthy vehicles will be impounded. Drivers should make sure that their vehicles are not defective, before taking them onto our roads,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba.
She added, “We urge all public service vehicles drivers not to drive when they are tired. Operators of public service vehicles should ensure that their drivers get enough rest before embarking on a journey.”
The police spokesperson discouraged people from traveling at night, noting that a number of accidents occurred during the night due to limited visibility.
“Most accidents happen at night because of limited visibility. Let us try and plan our journeys and travel during the day. We have enough hours during the day to travel and reach our destinations. Most accidents happen at night. The recent accident in Midlands happened at night, the same with the one that occurred in Bulawayo involving a family that was traveling for a funeral,” she said.
The Midlands accident in Chirumanzu involved a haulage truck and a cross border bus, while the Bulawayo accident saw 15 family members perish after their kombi was involved in an accident with a haulage truck coming from South Africa. Snr Asst Comm Charamba said police would also be out to curb armed robberies that have been on the increase lately, particularly in Bulawayo and Harare. She said members of the police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) would be deployed in full force during the Easter holidays.
The police spokesperson urged businesses to avoid keeping large sums of cash at their premises as this will attract armed robbers, and also discouraged members of the public from leaving their houses unmanned when they go away for the holidays.
“We urge people to leave someone monitoring their houses when they go away for the holidays. We will deploy CID officers this holiday to contain armed robberies, especially in Bulawayo and Harare where cases have been on the increase of late.
“Armed robbers should be warned. Even on roadblocks we will check for armed robbers and if we suspect anyone to be an armed robber we will arrest them,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ), will this week embark on road safety campaigns around the country aimed at reducing road carnage this Easter. TSCZ spokesperson Mr Ernest Muchena told Sunday News that 18 teams will be deployed on the country’s major highways during the campaign. Mr Muchena said the campaigns were aimed at informing drivers to abide by the traffic regulations.
He said the teams would also educate motorists on the upgraded Highway Code which was expected to help bring sanity on the country’s roads. Mr Muchena urged the motoring public to be cautious on the roads and observe road traffic regulations to avoid loss of lives. He encouraged drivers to rest after every two hours or after covering 200 kilometres to avoid fatigue, which is one of the causes of accidents.
Last year 10 people died in road traffic accidents during the Easter holidays countrywide, two more from fatalities recorded during the same period in 2015. Police ticketed 20 528 motorists for various traffic offences last year, an increase of 4 501 from 2015 period, while the number of vehicles impounded decreased by just one from 299 in 2015.