Road accidents in Zimbabwe: Transport Minister unveils government’s plans to curb road deaths


HARARE — Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona announced on Tuesday a series of measures to reduce the rising toll of road deaths in the country, especially ahead of the festive season when traffic accidents tend to spike.

Transport Minister Felix Mhona

Mhona was responding to a question from lawmaker Tafanana Zhou, who had asked for a ministerial statement on the government's plans to address the disconcerting surge in road carnage that has claimed dozens of lives in recent weeks.

Among the fatal incidents, 22 people died when a minibus collided with a truck on the Bulawayo-Beitbridge highway on November 15. A day before, six perised and three others were injured on the Masvingo-Beitbridge highway.

A catastrophic road mishap that took place on 13th November 2023 along Eastern Boarder Road in Chipinge resulted in the death of three people, whilst three were injured in the accident.

Mhona told the National Assembly that his ministry was pursuing a policy and legislative thrust that included the introduction of speed limiting and monitoring devices, a new drivers licence system, electronic learner licencing testing, road infrastructure development, and the establishment of a traffic safety agency.

He said the speed limiting and monitoring devices were introduced in June under Statutory Instrument 118 of 2023, which capped the maximum speed of passenger-carrying public service vehicles at 100 km per hour; and that transport operators were now being fined for over speeding and traffic law enforcement agencies were being capacitated to ensure compliance.

"I am pleased to advise that transport operators are now being fined for over speeding, with monitoring devices in line with the regulations to curb speeding by drivers. Furthermore, my Ministry is working closely with that of Home Affairs, and Cultural Heritage to ensure that traffic law enforcement agencies are capacitated to enforce compliance with the speed limiting and monitoring devices regulations,” Minister Mhona said.

He also said the new drivers' licence system, which was enacted under Statutory Instrument 119 of 2023, had enhanced security features and created an electronic database of licenced drivers linked to all relevant stakeholders for ease of tracking.

"The new driver’s licence has enhanced security features, significantly deterring counterfeiting attempts. From a road safety point of view, this improves the enforcement of the driving licence requirements and reduces the number of unqualified drivers who pose a risk to the commuting public," he said.

He said the new system also had 13 categories of licences that matched the different sizes and combinations of vehicles, preventing drivers from operating vehicles they were not qualified to drive.

Another talking point was the parlous state of the country’s road infrastructure. The minister highlighted government’s progress on roads rehabilitation, but expressed concern regarding the precarious speeding some motorists undertake on the major rehabilitated highways such as Harare-Beitbridge and Plumtree-Mutare, among others.

The Minister stated that government has decided to transform the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe into a Traffic Safety Agency. This is designed to give the agency the power to enforce road safety regulations, similar to the Environmental Management Agency’s role in environmental issues.

The Traffic Safety Agency will be tasked with coordinating all institutions dealing with road traffic safety management, regulation, and traffic law enforcement.

Mhona added that government is currently amending the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe Act to facilitate this transformation. He also said that the Ministry is also reviewing and aligning road traffic management laws, traffic safety laws, and regulations to meet international best practices.

The minister concluded by saying that the creation of a Road Accident Fund is now at an advanced stage to minimise suffering by victims and survivors of accidents and improve post-crash response.

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