Zimbabwe is continuing to lose precious lives on the country’s major roads, she is mourning; almost every day with a sombre atmosphere engulfing the whole nation, owing to road accidents, to which the country seem to have no answer to.

It is now a common feature, road carnage is claiming lives in separate incidents at alarming rates, with the most terrifying being the recent Nyamakate nerve wrecking bus disaster that claimed 43 lives on spot, the driver of the King Lion Bus, lost control of the vehicle, and rammed into a tree.

The cross-border coach was ferrying traders from Zimbabwe to Zambia to stock up on wares to sell back home. This year alone the country has lost many lives in separate road accidents countrywide.

In one of such accidents, last year at least 30 people were killed when two buses collided along the highway connecting the capital Harare and Bulawayo.

The International Cross Border Traders Association (ICBTA) in Zimbabwe says many have been killed, maimed, and children have been orphaned by negligent driving by drivers who had not been properly and defensively trained.

ICBTA president Denis Juru, says the rate at which accidents are killing people is unacceptable, and urged the government to critically investigate the matter, to arrest the needless loss of life.

Most accidents in Zimbabwe are caused by the condition of the vehicle, others by the poor condition of the roads; however, the most contributory factor to accidents as cited by the authorities is human error.

Corresponding records from both the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe indicate that human error has been a silent killer on the country’s roads. According to available statistics, 93.4 percent of all accidents recorded during the 2014/15 festive season were a result of human error.

Human error has been said to the greater extent, to be stemming from the corruption involved in getting licensed, as drivers who are not so proficient, but, with the monies to bribe the officials get licensed.

For many, getting a driver’s license cleanly has been a headache, one applicant had this to say; “It seems like there is a deliberate move to cut the number of people getting licenses or maybe they are pushing people to pay bribes and buy licensing. People now pay to get a learners license because passing even the not so hard test has become really tough.”

The corrupt officials are allegedly demanding amounts ranging between $250 and $300 so as to make a learner pass the examinations. That inhibits learner drivers from acquiring licences, and in many cases they have to fail several times, with each attempt costing a lot of money to the already burdened learner.

Driving schools in Harare are charging between $5 and $3 a lesson.

Meanwhile, debates are boiling, with analysts arguing that though it may not be easy to change the roads at the present time, but ensuring that only competent drivers get onto the road may save lives, as most accidents are attributed to human error.

They say buying a license may seem like a money making scheme or an easy way to a drivers license, but it is putting potentially dangerous drivers onto our roads.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Michael Madanha has conceded in parliament recently, that corruption is the chief culprit causing accidents on the country’s roads. He blames the accidents that have of recent claimed many lives on the Zimbabwean roads to bribes taking involved in the issuance of drivers’ licenses.

He said this during question time in the Zimbabwean parliament recently while responding to Hon Beatrice Nyamupinga’s question on what intervention was the government going to come up with as a result of buses that are killing people on the roads.

“There are allegations that some of these drivers are not properly licensed.  

“As Government, we would want all drivers to be competently trained and should have proper documentation, because some of these drivers have fraudulently acquired their drivers’ licences,” said Madanha.

He added that the government is currently looking into the condition of the roads, and that some repairs are underway, and drivers’ licensing issues taking into account that there are allegations of some of the drivers not had been properly licensed.  

Meanwhile, there have been accusation and counter accusations among driving schools and the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID), in 2015 the department accused the driving schools for fuelling corruption acquisition of driver licenses, misleading learners that they cannot pass without bribing officials.

To the contrary, last year scores of private driving school instructors besieged the VID Eastlea depot in Harare, blocking learners from being examined as they protested against alleged rampant corruption involving examiners.

According to the Harare Driving School Instructors’ Association chairperson Prosper Dowa because of the level of corruption which he describes as worrisome, many motorists are even driving without licences.

“As Harare driving school instructors, we are here to show our displeasure at some of the VID examiners who are demanding bribe money from learners. Imagine one of my students failed for the ninth time all because she is refusing to give these people some money,” he said then.

Drivers undergoing training in Zimbabwe are expected to properly follow the procedures, from the acquiring of the provisional drivers’ licence, theory, then had to pass road tests too before being awarded a license. It is in that process that most of them have to bribe they way out. It is alleged that if one tries to honest and play it by the rules, the officials would make sure you don’t pass. It is also said they can give a learner a faulty vehicle for road test so that one fails, until he/ she pays a bribe.

Transport Minister Joram Gumbo vowed to weed out corrupt elements at VID if the public supplied him with irrefutable evidence. His ministry has since been going round all the country’s provinces, dealing with the issue of the Road Accidents Fund, meant to assist victims in terms of road accidents.