via Tough rules for bus operators on cards | The Herald November 26, 2013 by Zvamaida Murwira
The Vehicle Inspection Department and the Central Vehicle Registry will soon be commercialised to make them effective and avoid corruption that has led to defective public transport vehicles being allowed on the roads, causing numerous accidents. Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Obert Mpofu yesterday said short-term strict measures that would result in some public transport operators pulling off the road during this festive season were being crafted.
He said the country could no longer afford witnessing the high number of accidents that has characterised previous festive seasons and the situation would be different this time around.
Minister Mpofu was speaking at a conference organised by the Coach and Bus Operators Association to discuss challenges faced by the sector and was also attended by Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Francis Nhema.
He said corruption characterising the VID and the CVR was reflecting in the high number of road traffic accidents after defective public vehicles were allowed on the roads when officials received bribes.
“Just go to VID and see the chaos that is there and the chaos breeds all sorts of negatives like corruption, favouritism,” he said. “You go to CVR, there is a lot of chaos and the chaos is reflected on the road.
“The issue of commercialisation of some of our institutions such as CVR and VID are issues that we have been talking about since I came to the ministry. My officials are seized with that and I have told them to present a paper on how best it can be achieved.”
Minister Mpofu warned that the Government would be tough on the short-term measures to be announced soon to deal with the road carnage that normally characterises the festive season.
He said errant public transport operators who failed to work within the law and endangered passengers’ lives would be adequately dealt with in the envisaged crackdown.
“I can unilaterally deal with these issues, but I believe in consultations,” he said. “I should have acted on most of these, but I said let me talk to you first. But where I have consulted I will be able to make reference. Let’s have specific solutions and I will act on them.
“My call to you as operators and drivers is to make this coming holiday accident free. It is possible, but it is only achievable if each and every Zimbabwean makes a conscious decision to exercise caution on the road this festive season.
“As a ministry, we bank on your sense of national service and corporate responsibility to do your business legally, morally and ethically.”
Minister Mpofu said the conference by the bus operators came at a time when he was about to implement the policy measures that were meant to bring sanity on the road.
Speaking at the same event, Minister Nhema said it was unfortunate that it had to take a conference and Government ministers to remind public service transport operators on basic issues that they should know better.
“Need he (Minister Mpofu) remind you how precious lives are,” he said. “Is it the duty of a politician to remind you that you don’t kill people on the road? Is it his duty to remind you that your vehicle must be in good shape, should he call upon you every year to test you on your responsibility? No it’s not.
“It must not take a conference of this magnitude to talk about basic things.”
Minister Nhema said there was need to train women drivers because not only were they cautious on the road, but it would go a long way in empowering them.
Police Deputy Officer Commanding Traffic, Assistant Commissioner Daniel Chimwaza said there would be increased presence of police details to curb road carnage ahead of the festive season.
“The numerous police road deployments are situational and are well synchronised from province to province and are there to enhance police visibility,” he said.
“Our increased traffic enforcement are testimony of our determination to succeed.”
On corruption, Asst Comm Chimwanza said it was disheartening that some transport operators were setting aside a budget to pay police officers for easy passage with defective vehicles.
Coach and Bus Operators Association chairperson Mr Fungai Makoni said they were concerned at the proliferation of unregistered vehicles, most of which he said would not own up should an accident occur.
The association’s chief executive officer Mr Alexio Kautsiro bemoaned livestock presence on the highways, particularly the Masvingo-Beitbridge Road.
He said there was need to ban imports of second hand tyres as they were also contributing to road carnage.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Deputy Minister Walter Kanhanga also delivered a speech on how the transport sector could improve tourism.
The conference is expected to come up with recommendations which the Government would use to come up with a policy on public transport operators.
Road traffic accidents claimed 180 lives during the festive last year, while 901 others were injured in 1 128 accidents that occurred countrywide.
In 2011, 88 people died during the same period and 754 others were injured in 1 058 accidents, while 83 people died and 978 others were injured in 994 accidents in 2010.