Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development has proposed the setting up of a fund to assist road accident victims and their families, as it emerged that an accident occurs every 15 minutes and five people are killed daily on the country’s roads. The proposal has already been submitted to Cabinet for consideration.
The initiative, to be known as the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, comes at a time when at least 1 700 people die in road traffic accidents in Zimbabwe annually, while 30 000 are injured.
The establishment of the fund is in line with the United Nations Decade of Road Safety action plan.
Speaking at a consultative meeting in Harare recently, Transport and Infrastructural Development deputy minister Engineer Michel Madanha said Zimbabwe was one the few Sadc countries yet to establish such a fund.
“On this day, I have invited men and women from both the private and public sectors for the purposes of seeking their views, ideas and wise counsel on the need and modalities of establishing this fund of which Zimbabwe is one of the few Sadc countries that do not have it operational,” he said.
The workshop came a few hours after 43 people were killed, while several others were injured when a bus veered off the road and hit a tree on Wednesday evening, along the Harare-Chirundu Highway.
Eng Madanha said it was important to consult widely before introducing the accident fund.
“It is within the confinements of our national Constitution and the general principles of good democratic governance that the Government and its agencies consult the people before setting up such institutions,” he said.
“So, please be informed from the onset that your suggestions, criticisms and wise counsel are most welcome in this forum and will be taken on board as we move on what Government views as a noble cause.”
Eng Madanha said statistics showed that a road accident occurs in Zimbabwe every 15 minutes and that five people were being killed daily.
“On average we have about 1 700 fatalities and over 30 000 people injured every year,” he said.
“These statistics, though frightening, must always be remembered so that we come up with a viable and sustainable fund which takes into consideration our country’s current economic realities.”
Eng Madanha said Government noted with concern challenges that arise in the post-crash phase.
These include delays in securing rescue ambulance services and challenges related to getting the injured admitted to hospital.
Eng Madanha said it should be appreciated that emergency medical service organisations needed to recover costs for them to remain operational.
“However, a lot of people involved in accidents may not have medical insurance,” he said.
“It is, therefore, possible that there may be hesitation by the emergency rescue service providers and medical fraternity in responding to accidents as fast as they should, as they grapple with the question of how such services will be paid for.
“There is need to receive medical attention as quickly as possible.
“If there is anything life-threatening, it must be dealt with during the first one hour.
“As Government, we believe that if a mechanism which removes any sense of hesitation from the medical fraternity to respond to accidents is put in place, we would save more lives.”
Eng Madanha said assuming that the national response to proposed fund was positive, they would then begin drafting a legal framework.
It is Government’s intention to operationalise the fund by next year.
Staff from the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe have since attended regional conferences on the subject to learn from the experiences of their regional counterparts.
Representatives of road accident funds from Botswana and South Africa were invited to share their experiences with Zimbabwe at the consultative meeting.