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INJURED survivors of the Harare-Nyamapanda highway horror bus crash, who are receiving treatment at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, are crying foul after they were reportedly given $8 each by one of the bus companies involved in the collision.

The accident, which claimed 26 lives, was declared a national disaster and bereaved families were given a coffin, $200 and transport to ferry the deceased for burial.

Minister of Local Government, Public Service and National Housing, Ignatius Chombo visited the survivors in hospital and confirmed government's decision to declare the accident a national disaster.

While those who died received State assistance, government has not helped the injured survivors who are now battling to meet medical bills. There are also reports that hospital staff were reluctant to attend to the injured without a guarantee that they would be paid for their services.

An accident victim, Tinashe, 14, is still detained in hospital with neck injuries. His father said his son was given $8 ($3 for transport and $5 for foodstuffs).

"The $8 was paid by one of the bus companies involved in the fatal accident," said the concerned parent who was travelling to the hospital every day from a relative's house in Borrowdale, Harare.

Tinashe said he was travelling to school in Mutoko when the accident occurred. The boy is deeply traumatised by the accident so much that he has fallen into depression. His speech is no longer coherent and he gets shaken every time someone tries to talk to him.

Tinashe's father says he is helpless and fears for the worst once his son gets out of hospital. Living in a remote village in Mutoko, he wonders whether his son would continue to get the right treatment.

"And it is the full hospital bill that is giving me a real headache. Maybe one of the bus companies is going to help us settle the bill," he said.

At the moment, Tinashe is surviving on yoghurt and maheu because he cannot take in solid foodstuffs.

A Zupco official, Farai Runyowa, could not confirm nor deny that it was his bus company that had offered survivors $8 for food and transport.

Runyowa said Zupco would place a press release in a State-controlled newspaper during the weekend stating its position.

My Zimbabwe News crew managed to get an unofficial comment from a Swift Transport employee, a division of Pioneer Transport, who said it was very much unlikely that Pioneer Transport would pay $8 to the injured because Unifreight, the parent company of Pioneer Transport and Swift Transport is doing very well and is professionally run as it originates from UK.

Two buses were were involved in an accident, one is owned by a British-origin company while the other is owned by a financially crippled State-owned company. It's very easy to know the bus company that paid the injured US$8 each," she said.

Angela, who was visiting a family member involved in the accident, said she was deeply disturbed that the government was catering for the dead by giving them money and assistance while not caring for the living who were admitted in hospital.

"The government should also assist the injured survivors because some of them were crippled in the bus accident and they need medical attention that includes scans and X-rays which are expensive," said Angela.

A man from Mutoko, who identified himself as Mazarura, said he had been detained in hospital with injuries on the stomach and back sustained from the accident.

"When I was discharged from hospital, I was given a $372 bill for my stay in hospital from Sunday to Wednesday and a prescription to buy drugs. My brother signed the bill to necessitate my discharge. However, I was informed by hospital staff that Zupco should pay his hospital bill within a month failure of which my young brother would be asked to pay the bill."

Under the Road Traffic Act, transport operators must have a passenger insurance that costs $5 per passenger for a four-month term.

About 50 people were admitted at Parirenyatwa Hospital on Sunday with varying injuries after the fatal accident involving the two buses.

Police investigations revealed that the driver of the Pioneer bus lost control and encroached onto the opposite lane, causing a head-on collision with a Zupco bus, which was travelling towards Mutoko.

On Tuesday, police said six survivors of the accident were still admitted at the hospital with the rest having been discharged.

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