We can prevent accidents if we all do our jobs properly

Tynwald High School bus accident

In September 1991, top musicians in the country, including the late Simon Chopper Chimbetu, Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, Fortune Mparutsa, Mechanic Manyeruke, The Runn Family, Hosiah Chipanga and many others penned an ode for the victims of one of the worst bus disasters in the country.

It was a plea to bus drivers to respect the sanctity of life by driving carefully on our roads. They made special mention of the number of children who had lost their lives in the worst bus disaster to ever hit the country.

The Nyanga bus accident, now commonly referred to in the annals of history as the Nyanga Bus Disaster, occurred on August 3, 1991. Up to this day, it remains Zimbabwe's worst traffic accident in which 89 people died, including the driver and 82 schoolchildren.

It occurred when the bus crashed 20 kilometres from the Roman Catholic Regina Coeli School following a schools sports day at the St Killian’s Mission School. The bus was not only overloaded, but reports suggest the driver was drunk and was speeding when the brakes of the bus failed.

 Just 31 years after the disaster, Zimbabwe was plunged into mourning again when six Tynwald High School students perished while 34 others were injured in a bus accident along Rusape-Nyanga Road on Friday.

According to the police, the accident happened around 7pm when the bus veered off the road and overturned at the 75km peg along Rusape-Nyanga Road.

Reports suggest human error was to blame. According to the police, the driver failed to negotiate a curve and the bus veered off the road and rolled several times on a steep slope. It is not clear if the driver is licensed.

We are losing lives needlessly on our roads and families are having to grapple with the mental torture of losing their loved ones.

The country is losing its young bright minds to these accidents, young ones who never got to show their potential or live their lives enough to shine their talents on the land of their birth.

Parents and loved ones, friends and colleagues are left to rue what might have been.

What does it take for those charged with driving public transport to understand the value of human life? The callous disregard of life is astounding.

Much of this blame should fall at the doorstep of the police. When was the last time the police was seen enforcing speed limits, despite the numerous roadblocks along our highways?

How many times have we seen broken down trucks on the roads with no reflective triangles to warn oncoming traffic and the police drive by like it’s nothing?

Accidents like the recent disaster in Nyanga can be prevented, if all of us: schools, transport operators, drivers and especially the police, play our part.

In 2017, the late Alex Magaisa wrote about the Nyanga Bus Disaster:

“There has never been a bigger bus disaster in Zimbabwe. It occupied pages of newspapers at home and as far afield as London, New York and Los Angeles. These were just young kids. Their tragic loss touched the world in a profound way. A wounded nation.”

The numbers may be lower this time but the effect is the same.

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