- Published: 19 January 2015
- Written by Herald
At least 25 people died while 46 others were seriously injured when a Zupco bus heading for Mutoko and a Pioneer bus travelling to Harare side-swiped along the Harare-Nyamapanda highway yesterday morning.
Of the 25 dead, 24 died on the spot while the other one – believed to be the driver of the Zupco bus – died a few hours later on his way to Parirenyatwa Hospital.
The Pioneer bus driver was among those who died on the spot in the accident which occurred near the 35-kilometre peg at around 10.40am.
The Zupco bus, which had 58 passengers, was travelling to Chisambira in Mutoko, while the Pioneer bus with 41 passengers on board was coming from Nyamapanda heading towards Harare.
When The Herald visited the scene, bodies were still to be collected, with the extensively damaged Zupco bus still in the middle of the road, while the Pioneer bus was in the nearby bushes.
Several books, groceries, clothes and other personal effects were strewn all over the scene.
Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday said the accident occurred when the Pioneer bus driver encroached onto the oncoming vehicles' lane.
"In this incident, a Zupco bus which was travelling from Harare and a Pioneer bus which was travelling from Nyamapanda had a side-swipe near the 35km peg when the driver of the Pioneer bus encroached onto the oncoming vehicle's lane. 46 people were seriously injured and taken to Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals."
Snr Asst Comm Charamba described the accident as "another dark cloud which has robbed the nation of innocent lives due to this horrendous accident."
The Officer Commanding Mashonaland East province, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charles Makono, said preliminary investigations revealed that both bus drivers were speeding.
"With the impact and the damage of these buses, it's clear the drivers were speeding," he said. "We would like to appeal to public service vehicle drivers to adhere to maximum speed limits."
One of the survivors who was travelling on the Zupco bus, Mr Dickson Nyamukandiwa, said the accident occurred soon after the bus overtook a light vehicle.
"Our bus first overtook a small car and went back to its lane," he said. "A few minutes later, the Pioneer bus encroached into our lane resulting in the collision. I was sitting on the side where the bus was side-swiped and I still don't know how I got out of the bus."
Another survivor, Mr James Zivai, who was on the Zupco bus, said the impact occurred when the Pioneer bus left its lane.
"It came straight into the bus we were travelling and there was a huge impact," he said. "I went under the seat after I panicked and I think that is how I survived."
Mrs Slyvia Moyo, who was on the Pioneer bus, said the accident happened in the blink of an eye.
"It was within seconds between the time I heard a bang and the time the Pioneer bus driver lost control and the bus left the road," she said.
"I am not sure what really caused the accident, but I am really scared and now afraid of using buses in future."
Goromonzi North legislator Cde Mabel Nkatazo, who visited the scene, said it was sad to note that some of the dead were school children as evidenced by books strewn around the scene.
"I am disturbed by the accident and it has claimed a lot of lives," she said. "The cause of the accident could also be that our drivers are being overworked as unconfirmed reports indicate the Pioneer bus driver had was dozing."
Cde Mabel Kaundikiza, the proportional representation MP for Mashonaland East, said she assisted by ferrying 13 people who were injured in the accident to Parirenyatwa Hospital.
Mutoko South legislator Cde Ricky Mawere also visited the scene and called for stern measures against errant drivers.
The dead were yet to be identified.
In August, last year, 13 people died at the 22-kilometre peg along the same highway in a collision between a Zupco bus travelling from Malawi to Harare and a Nyamapanda-bound haulage truck.