MUTARE – Four people were killed when a Beta bus burst into flames after colliding with a fuel tanker at the 242km peg along the Harare-Mutare highway yesterday.
The deceased included two passengers on the bus, the tanker driver and his passenger. The rest of the passengers kicked emergency exit panels and helped others to escape despite the injuries of many.
However, 54 of those escaping passengers were taken to Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital with injuries described as serious.
The four bodies were being retrieved last night.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the bus, which was on its way from Harare, encroached onto the opposite lane resulting in the head-on collision with the tanker that was heading towards Harare.
“There are reports that the bus driver had tried to avoid a drunken person who was along the road and thereby encroaching onto the opposite lane but we are still conducting investigations.
“Our officers are still on the ground and we will be releasing more details,” he said last night.
Manicaland Provincial Secretary for Development and Devolution, Mr Edgars Seenza was at the scene with police helping to coordinate the needed resources for passengers, police and medical staff.
He said the accident happened around 5pm.
“The tanker which was transporting fuel burst into flames. Both vehicles were reduced to wrecks.
“As the Civil Protection Unit, we are encouraging motorists to exercise extreme caution on the roads,” said Mr Seenza.
When our Mutare Bureau attended to the scene last night, Mutare Fire Brigade, which swiftly responded to the distress call had managed to extinguish the fire.
The remains of the tanker driver were still trapped in the wreckage of his vehicle.
Traffic was along Mutare Highway was blocked for close to an hour as the remains were being retrieved.
“It so sad to lose lives in such a horrific manner especially during this festive season,” said Mr Seenza.
On Thursday afternoon, one person died while 15 others were injured-eight of them seriously when a Harare-bound Munhenzva cross-border bus they were travelling in burst its tyre and landed on its roof near the Matshiloni area along the Beitbridge-Masvingo highway.
The bus was carrying 29 Zimbabweans returning from South Africa.
The injured were taken to the Beitbridge District Hospital for medical attention, while one of the deceased crew members was taken to a mortuary at the same hospital.
Zimbabwean roads produce a lot of accidents.
In the first 10 months of this year, 1 475 people were killed while 6 614 were injured in 35 727 road traffic accidents, despite two Level Four lockdowns and a curfew every night, both sharply limiting driving.
Recently, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona told a media conference in Harare that an average of five people die on the roads each day, translating to plus or minus 2 000 deaths annually.
He said the period between December 15 this year and January 15 next year marks the festive season, a time when there is normally an increase in road traffic deaths and injuries.
“This is so because of increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic. You may recall that during the period December 15 2019 to January 15 2020, a total of 3 668 road traffic accidents were recorded, with 186 people killed and 722 injured during that festive season.
“As we are in another festive period. We need to take stock of what happened in the year 2020 and avoid a replica of such unpleasant statistics,” he said.