Featherstone accident declared national disaster

Source: Featherstone accident declared national disaster | The Sunday Mail June 30, 2019

Lincoln Towindo and Tanyaradzwa Rusike

Families of the 19 victims who died in Friday’s road accident at Featherstone, near Chivhu, will receive Government assistance after President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared the accident a national disaster.

The death toll rose yesterday after three victims who were critically ill succumbed to their injuries.

In his condolence message to the bereaved families, President Mnangagwa directed that investigations be undertaken to ascertain the cause of the horrific crash.

In a statement yesterday, Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda said the President received news of the accident “with sadness and distress”.

“His Excellency, President ED Mnangagwa has received the news of the loss of 16 lives (now 19) and injuries to others in the road accident that took place at Featherstone, near Chivhu, on the Harare-Masvingo road, with sadness and distress,” reads the statement.

“On behalf of the nation, Government of Zimbabwe and his own behalf, he expresses his deepest condolences to the bereaved families and those affected.

“He wishes a quick recovery to the injured.

“His Excellency has declared the Featherstone accident a National Disaster.

“He has directed that resources be availed to assist the affected families in this moment of need and grief.

“He has also instructed that full investigations be carried out to ascertain the cause of the accident and that lessons be learnt so as to avoid a recurring avoidable loss of human capital in our country.”

The accident occurred when a commuter omnibus and a haulage truck collided head-on at Wengezi Bridge in Featherstone at around 9am on Friday.

Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Biggie Matiza said in a statement yesterday that drivers of public service vehicles should exercise extreme caution on the roads.

“The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development wishes to convey sincere condolences to the families, friends and relatives of the 16 people who tragically perished in a minibus and haulage truck accident at the 89-kilometre peg along the Harare-Beitbridge highway on the 28th of June 2019 and it is hoped that those who sustained injuries have a speedy recovery,” said Minister Matiza.

“The Minister urges all drivers, particularly those of public service vehicles, vehicle owners, the travelling members of the public and all other road-users to respect the rules and regulations of the road, to exercise extreme caution as 90 percent of road traffic accidents are attributed to human error hence motorists are urged to develop a sense of belonging to this noble cause of life preservation when using the road.”

In its condolence message, the ruling Zanu-PF said the road accident showed the lack of discipline on the country’s roads.

The party’s national spokesperson, Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo said authorities should take stern measures to arrest road carnage.

“The revolutionary Zanu-PF party is perturbed by the carnage on our roads as evidenced by the loss of 16 lives while seven others were severely injured yesterday at Wengezi Bridge in Featherstone on the Harare-Masvingo Highway.

“This was as a result of a head on collision between a commuter omnibus and a haulage truck,” said Ambassador Moyo.

“Such unnecessary loss of life is an indictment on all concerned and a demonstration of the lack of discipline on our roads whose cost to the country and the economy is enormous.

“The party calls on authorities concerned to take stern measures to address this madness. Enough is enough!

“People ferried on our roads are not firewood to be turned into charcoal with total disrespect of the sanctity of human life.

“Such nauseating accidents are no different from corruption.

“In mourning with the bereaved families, may the souls of the departed rest in eternal peace.

“The party wishes the injured speedy recovery.”

Police say the accident occurred when the haulage truck encroached into the oncoming traffic lane. Seven people suffered serious injuries and are admitted at Chivhu District Hospital.

Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said names of the deceased will be released today after their next of kin have been informed.