By Guest Writer
TWENTY people perished this Monday afternoon when two vehicles loaded to the rafters with intercity passengers collided head-on near Mhandamabwe in Masvingo Province.
Announcing the accident on Twitter, Zimbabwe Republic Police national spokesperson Paul Nyathi said a Toyota Granvia van travelling from Masvingo to Zvishavane burst a tyre and encroached onto the lane of an oncoming Toyota Wish resulting in the fatal crash and head-on impact.
The accident occured near Mhandamabwe shops, some 60km from Masvingo city, at around 15.45 hours, Nyathi added. There is everything worrisome about this accident and the circumstances around it.
Firstly, the accident clearly involved two overloaded vehicles which apparently were transporting passengers between two towns during a tight lockdown. The Masvingo-Mbalabala road is a highway with huge police presence, but these vehicles are allowed to ferry passengers in disregard of COVID-19 regulations simply because the drivers are friends with the cops and a bribe was paid.
It is painful and infuriating to imagine that because a couple of rotten cops took a US$2 bribe from an equally rotten pirate taxi driver, 20 precious souls were lost.
Secondly, the worrisome thing with the police statement issued by Nyathi is that he does not mention at all if police are investigating why all those people were crammed inside two small vans and any road blocks they passed through. This is the tolerance to corruption by top leadership that has made Zimbabwe a classic case of a failed, corrupt nation.
The bad cops who take bribes everyday and let motorists get away with murder can sleep well knowing that their own bosses, for some strange reason, will simply look the other way. There is no pressure whatsoever imposed on the police team that patrolled that section of the highway around the time of the fatal crash.
Thirdly, this horrific accident happened in broad daylight, at 3.45pm. The vehicles didn’t have to operate at night, because the drivers know they simply pass through police checkpoints if they grease some palms with a dollar or two. What happened to COVID-19 regulations and the lockdown? At a time virtually all provinces are reeeling from a third wave of the pandemic, can we trust our law enforcement, particularly the police, to ensure the lockdown is effected fully and without corruption and favour?
The massive damage to both vehicles betray the overspeeding of either of the motorists on what is basically a very bad road with dangerous potholes.
Only a couple of weeks ago, a South Africa-bound bus had its crew and passengers held hostage and subsequently robbed along the Harare-Masvingo highway. This happened at night, but still the bus drove past tollgates and probably police checkpoints and bribed their way through.
In all these cases, what’s worrying is that police investigate the circumstances of the accident, announce the accident victims and wait for the next accident to happen. No police members are held accountable for letting down their guard or dabbling in corruption.
This is worrying and must come to an end. ■