THE Zimbabwe Passengers’ Association (ZPA) has condemned public service vehicles operators for overloading and putting at risk lives of passengers.
ZPA secretary-general Paul Makiwa told Southern Eye that commuter omnibuses were expected to carry a stipulated number of passengers to ensure public safety, but such rules were usually flouted.
“If a car is registered to carry 15 passengers, it should carry this number only, because it is insured to carry that specific number,” he said.
“Often when accidents occur, passengers are left uncompensated, as they will not have been covered by insurance.”
Makiwa urged the Zimbabwe Republic Police to ensure that the Road Transportation Act was followed.
“The laws that condemn overloading in aeroplanes and trains are the same laws that are supposed to be followed by those on the road and the police should make sure that they arrest those found overloading,” he said.
Makiwa said during holidays, the rate at which passengers were dying was too high and worrisome and there was apprehension ahead of the Easter holidays.
“If a car is overloaded, tyres are likely to burst,” he explained.
“Public service drivers should, therefore, be cognisant of taking caution in respect to passenger safety, because we cannot be packed like sardines.
“This hinders the safety health environment of passengers and there would be an increase of permanent disabilities.”
Makiwa said it was high time passengers clamoured for their rights and urged public vehicle operators to recruit qualified drivers so that passengers’ lives were not “endangered by reckless and inexperienced drivers”.
Makiwa advised public vehicle operators to avoid overcharging during next month’s public holidays.
Transport operators have a tendency of increasing fares during holidays taking advantage of the huge volume of travellers.
According to statistics released by the ZRP last year during Independence and Easter holidays 25 lives were lost, while 216 were injured in 244 accidents countrywide.
Traditionally, Easter is one of the longest holidays and has in the past years been considered the most deadly because of increased accidents and loss of life despite heavy police presence on the country’s highways.