HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday led Zimbabweans in mourning the victims of the horrific accident which occurred along the Mutare-Harare highway on Wednesday.
Initially 47 people were reported to have perished, while 80 others were seriously injured when two buses collided after one of them tried to overtake a haulage truck just outside Rusape. However, the death toll has since risen to 50.
Among the dead were two children.
“Last night (Wednesday), a heartbreaking tragedy occurred on the Harare-Mutare Road. The great loss of life, the pain and the anguish of the families and victims are
today felt by an entire nation.
“Government will ensure the injured receive the treatment they need, and the victims the support they deserve. We will be there for you.
“As we move forward, it is incumbent upon us to investigate how this happened, draw the relevant insights and implement tough new regulations to make these tragic incidents a thing of the past,” Mnangagwa said on social media.
“The use of vehicles that are not roadworthy, or drivers who do not seem to care for passengers’ safety, amount to a criminal breach of trust between bus operators and the paying commuters who expect and deserve safe transit.
“Equally, the rampant lawlessness now evident on our highways, and especially on our dense urban roads, must now meet with a robust response from our traffic enforcement agents whose duty it is to ensure a culture of compliance and safety on all our roads.
“The cost to our nation by way of life and limb simply cannot be allowed to continue unchecked,” Mnangagwa added in his condolence message.
Meanwhile, government has since declared the accident a national disaster and is assisting bereaved families with funeral expenses.
The MDC described the Rusape bus accident as painful and sad for all Zimbabweans.
“Nelson Chamisa and the entire MDC family join the nation in mourning 47 compatriots who died in the Rusape bus accident.
“Their passing is untimely, the loss of life is sad, painful and leaves a life-long negative impact not only for the families but the Zimbabwean community,” party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said.
The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) said the accident could have been avoided, blaming it on human error.
“TSCZ learns with a heavy and sad heart the untimely and tragic loss of 47 lives and injury of many others in the Smart Express and Bolt Cutter accident near Rusape tollgate yesterday.
“Our deepest sympathies are with the various bereaved families across Zimbabwe and our thoughts are with the injured in hospital and those traumatised by the fatal crash at home,” TSCZ said.
The president of the Motor Industry Association of Zimbabwe (MIAZ), Simplisio Shamba, urged the government to accelerate its implementation of programmes that keep incompetent drivers off the roads.
“Public vehicles should have mandatory speed governors as this will help reduce the severity of the accidents which have robbed others breadwinners or parents.
“I hope other road users have learnt from this serious and sad accident,” he said.
Zimbabwe has in recent years witnessed a surge in horror accidents which have often been blamed on human error.
In April, 13 people perished while 31 were seriously injured when a Chawasarira bus collided with a commuter omnibus outside Kadoma.
A King Lion bus killed 43 people and injured 30 others when it was involved in a horrendous accident in June last year — just outside Karoi.
The accident occurred a few weeks after 31 people, mainly cross-border traders, were burnt beyond recognition when a South Africa-bound Proliner bus that they were travelling in was side-swiped by a haulage truck and caught fire at Nyamatikiti River, in Chirumanzu.
In another grisly accident in March 2017, a grieving Bulawayo family was hit by double tragedy when 13 of its members were killed on the spot in a horrific accident when their minibus, which was ferrying the body of a deceased relative for burial in Masvingo, was mangled by a haulage truck near the National University of Science and Technology (Nust).