CASH STRAPPED government has shot down an appeal from traditional leader, Chief Chundu, requesting funds to carry out a series of cleansing ceremonies at accident scenes, to stop them from re-occurring.
This comes as at least 47 people were killed, while 70 others were injured when two buses – Bolt Cutter and Smart Express – ploughed into each other head-on at the 166-kilometre peg along the Harare-Mutare Highway on November 7.
A further 42 people lost their lives on November 15 after a suspected gas tank exploded on a bus in Gwanda.
Speaking in Senate on Thursday, Chief Chundu, was of the view that cleansing ceremonies were essential to appease spirits of the dead were at accident scenes albeit through tax payer funding.
“My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. Are there plans in terms of accidents that are happening on our roads so that they are cleansed by churches and chiefs especially those blind spots?” he queried.
Deputy minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Fortune Chasi said cleansing ceremonies were not in government’s plans.
“I heard as if the Senator is asking whether or not there is anything that we do as government to cleanse the accident areas? It is very true, as a government, we visited the Rusape accident scene but there is nothing that is in place when it comes to cleansing – there is nothing in place. We leave that to the interested parties, they can go ahead if there is anything that they can do to help the nation but as government, we do not go there and pray or cleanse the area,” Chasi said.
Chief Chundu further queried “so if there are people who can do the cleansing, will they get funding from the ministry?”
Chasi, however, stated that government did not have any such plans and anyone who wanted to carry out cleansing ceremonies could do so at their own expense.
“There is no funding set aside by the government to cater for that. We think that as the people of Zimbabwe, those who want to do that can make their own arrangements. We do not have a budget set aside for that,” he said.
President of Senate Marble Chinomona also pressured: “Minister, are you even considering it?”
Chasi again shot that down: “No, we are not,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Transport and Infrastructural Development deputy minister said government was working around the clock to investigate causes of accidents which are likely to get worse as we enter the festive season.
He acknowledged the daily tussles between passengers and touts at places of boarding as a cause of concern.
He pointed at the need for the use of modern technology such as cameras to spot infringements in cities and urgent restructuring at the VID where officials have been said to have corruptly awarded drivers’ licences.
“The accident that happened in Rusape should be an eye opener to all Zimbabweans so that we look at this closely. We are now looking at how licences are issued and those who drive public service vehicles should be 25years old and above. Currently, most kombi drivers are under age. So I think we should reconsider this and as Government, we have decided in Cabinet that we should come up with a Road Traffic Fund,” he said.
Observers maintains, as in the glory days of Zupco, only an efficient government run transport system can reduce escalating commuter accidents.