By Patson Gumbo

It is with a heavy heart that I write this article following the horrific and disastrous accident that claimed 50 lives, injuring 70 more along in Rusape at the 166 kilometer peg along Harare-Mutare highway on Wednesday 7 November 2018.

As the sun was setting on the day, social media was abuzz with pictures of the accident with many different versions on how it had occurred.

Barely a week had passed and again we read that 32 more people had lost their lives when the bus they were travelling in burst into flames near West Nicholson.

May the souls of all those who lost their lives rest in eternal peace and may God Almighty comfort their families; to those who were injured I pray for their quick recovery.

As we approach the festive season with people already in the mood for celebrations and planning to travel to different places the issue of accidents on the roads needs to be addressed. The multi-million-dollar question on almost everyone’s lips is who really is to blame for this road carnage that has taken the lives of our loved ones? The blame game starts with fingers pointed in different directions.

One would be quick to blame our roads which have become a nightmare for drivers. Drivers of public service vehicles are also blamed for their “suicide” driving, speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving without proper documents.

The cycle continues with no definite answer to all those questions but it is very disturbing that most accidents are caused by human error.

What are you doing as an individual to avoid road accidents? What are you thinking would happen when you buy your nice and fast vehicle from Japan yet you have never been to the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) for a road test, let alone you haven’t even visited a driving school or even read the Highway Code? Yet some have a license but it came without them even visiting the VID depot while others had been there but allegedly acquired their licenses through corrupt means.

And with these automatic vehicles that have flooded our streets we are just stepping on the gas with no knowledge at all of the road rules and regulations. I strongly urge Zimbabweans to avoid driving without a license and to our police there should not be lenient to those who do not possess the necessary documents needed by a driver. There should be stiffer penalties for those caught driving without a license.

As a Christian nation, it’s high time that the church plays an important role in praying for our roads. Uncertainty over the role of Satanism on our roads continues to be a topic of debate. As we embark on our journeys let us pray to God to cover us as we travel; by this we are acknowledging that the devil is at work and that we are in battle.

From the perspective of African Traditional Religion there is need to cleanse a place where an accident would have occurred.

Others on the other hand believe in alleged sacrifice of human lives by some bus operators as another cause for road accidents. The theory alleges that some bus operators sacrifice human blood for their businesses to flourish.

Whatever we believe; now is no longer the time to be pointing fingers at each other but for us to unite to put an end to road carnage. It’s now time for us as individuals, stakeholders in the transport sector and government to come together to find a way to curb this menace.

Let me revisit the issue of spreading accident information through social media. Although social media has become a fast way of sending information, it is now being abused and has removed the Ubuntu in us. Instead of assisting people who have been injured, people now rush to take pictures and videos which go viral even before their next of kin are informed. It is sad for someone to learn of the death of their loved one through social media.

It is not the duty of the police or government to prevent road accidents, it is not the duty of the local authority, but it starts with you as an individual. The power to prevent road accidents is in your hands, question is what are you doing about it?

Let us make our roads safe again, observe road rules and regulations, read the Highway Code even when you have no intention of getting a license, have proper documentation when driving and let us train in defensive driving regardless of the vehicle we drive, be it private or public service.

Together we can reduce road accidents; it starts with you as an individual.