Traffic police officers will be held responsible for accidents
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Traffic police officers will be held responsible for accidents

Speaking in the Senate, the minister said that any vehicle involved in an accident after driving through a roadblock would be held accountable by the roadblock officials.

Over the past few months, there has been a disturbing increase in the number of road accidents across the country, resulting in many people being killed or injured.

The increase has been attributed to various factors, including careless driving, unroadworthy vehicles and inadequate enforcement of traffic laws.

Expressing concern over the issue, Manicaland State Senator Jane Chistamba asked the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development what action the ministry was taking to stem the spike in road accident casualties which have become a weekly occurrence and have led to hundreds of deaths on Zimbabwe’s roads, especially among public transport users.

“Public transport drivers are too reckless,” she said.

According to the Zimbabwe Road Safety Council, from January to May 2024, there were a total of 21 183 road accidents in the country, resulting in 860 deaths and 4 350 injuries.

In January, there were 3,915 accidents, 138 fatalities, and 797 injuries. In February, there were 3,913 accidents, 104 fatalities, and 713 injuries. In March, there were 4,431 accidents, 211 fatalities, and 940 injuries. In April, there were 4,219 accidents, 203 fatalities, and 990 injuries. In May, there were 4,705 accidents, resulting in 204 deaths and 910 injuries.

Traffic police officers will be held responsible for accidents

These figures point to persistent road safety problems, highlighting the need for better enforcement of traffic laws and better vehicle maintenance practices.

Underlining the seriousness of the situation, the minister said the new policy aims to ensure greater accountability and diligence among law enforcement officials.

“It is very sad that in June alone, more than 26 people died and more than 56 were injured,” Mhona said.

“We are taking serious mitigation measures as a ministry, but it requires a holistic approach. Where we have witnessed recklessness, where we have not upheld the sanctity of life on our roads, where others have been driving under the influence of alcohol, and through law enforcement officers, we have said that if a vehicle goes through a staffed checkpoint and is involved in an accident, the officers are responsible.”

He added: “Not only that, even the operators of these buses. So we are not charging only the drivers.”

Mhona noted that in all the reported accidents, the vehicles did not have roadworthiness certificates, meaning they were not fit to be driven on the roads.

“That is why we cannot continue to look on. We cannot continue to allow such anarchy and lawlessness on our roads. We are bringing forward a very deterrent Statutory Instrument (SSI) to tackle such unfair practices.”

He continued: “We are witnessing 2,000 deaths a year in this small country of Zimbabwe. We cannot continue to have such alarming numbers. I want to assure this august House that we will not rest on our laurels as a Ministry, but we will continue to appeal to this august House for deterrent measures.”

The announcement sparked mixed reactions from the public, with some welcoming the move, seeing it as a necessary step to improve road safety and reduce accidents.

“Holding officials accountable will mean more stringent checks and adherence to safety standards,” said one Bulawayo resident.

Some law enforcement officials, however, have expressed concerns about the practicality and fairness of the policy.

“Despite good intentions, this can lead to excessive pressure on officers and result in them being wrongly blamed for accidents that were beyond their control,” commented one traffic officer.