Home » Judicial » Up the Ante, Charge Negligent Kombi Owners! [opinion]

It is telling of national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba’s recent pronouncement that most traffic crashes (erroneously called “accidents” in Zimbabwe) that have killed and maimed many involved kombis. Quite worryingly, most unlicensed kombi drivers were in many cases illegal touts that by hook or by crook accessed keys to a public service vehicle and drove unwary passengers to their premature grave.

The Herald’s senior reporter, Peter Matambanadzo’s informative article, one week today, extensively quotes Charamba lamenting the turmoil caused by the lawless kombis.

Charamba confirms the demise of many people countrywide in the preceding two weeks in crashes caused mainly by unruly kombis. She largely attributes the man-made killer crashes to the usual overtaking errors, routine speeding and gross negligence.

“We recorded 34 accidents in which 33 people were killed, while 122 others were seriously injured in the past two weeks countrywide. The majority of the accidents were caused by commuter omnibuses,” top cop Charamba says.

Specifically making reference to the said crashes, she declares that most commuter omnibus drivers involved did not possess a valid driver’s licence. Well, that is in addition to what every “member of the public” knows that not many kombis at any given time fully comply with the rigorous kombi licensing regulations.

“The police are concerned with (at) the high number of accidents particularly by errant commuter omnibus drivers. We are going to arrest them and anyone who breach(es) traffic regulations (and) we will ensure that they are prosecuted,” Charamba authoritatively declares.

Charamba said Godfrey Jasi (26) was run over by a kombi while walking on the extreme left side of Seke Road near ABC Auctions on June 30 and that another pedestrian was struck near the Support Unit depot near Chikurubi.

She said in another recent incident, a soldier was killed by a kombi as it overtook on the wrong side of the road.

That was in apparent reference to the heartbreaking story of the unjustifiable demise of a young female Zimbabwe National Army trooper, Lance Corporal Vimbai Nyagande (25), who perished after she was cruelly murdered by a wicked kombi, in the 2 Presidential Guard environs in Harare.

That death distressed this columnist who lamented the prematurely extinguished dreams of a fine young female soldier.

“We are appealing to the public who might have witnessed these (hit-and-run) accidents to contact any nearest police station so that the perpetrators can be brought to book,” Charamba appeals.

Matambanadzo’s article also mentions that cases of commuter omnibus drivers who hit pedestrians are on the increase.

In May this year, a commuter omnibus driver, Lloyd Kusotera, was jailed for knocking down and killing a four-year-old boy. His licence was appropriately cancelled and he earned a US$100 fine for driving without a prerequisite medical endorsement.

In a recent case, an unlicensed commuter omnibus driver who knocked down two pedestrians while fleeing police in Harare last year and had been on the run, was sentenced to an effective two years and eight months in prison for negligently driving without a licence.

Traffic Friday fully agrees with writer Matambanadzo in his assessment that “kombis have a distressing trail of mayhem and outright murder in their wake”. Yes, homicide is what kombis do frequently with the kombi operator looking the side, seemingly only concerned about the bucks rolling in.

Generally, as the owner of my car, I ensure no easy access to the keys.

They must always be safely tucked away. Much like a licensed gun owner who takes every measure to ensure it never gets into the wrong hands.

Why then, dear reader, does a kombi owner happily escape sanction for his vehicle being used as a deadly weapon by an unlicensed driver?

Traffic Friday is convinced that each kombi owner at any one time is responsible for whoever commands their vehicle on the road. Only in a case of outright theft of the kombi should we withhold blame.

In light of the murderous trail, the authorities are encouraged to charge, under existing laws, any kombi owner whose PSV gets involved in an accident and the driver is proven unlicensed. This column has begun to robustly lobby the relevant authorities on these pages and is actively behind calls for the arrests of kombi owners who negligently allow any Jack and Jill to drive their kombi.

And in the case of any kombi involved in a fatal accident, howsoever caused, that death consequence should automatically suspend the operator’s licence and a prompt forensic investigation launched into the operations of the operator to interrogate his methods and such suspension to apply to her entire fleet.

Precedence was set when the entire Mhunga conventional bus fleet was grounded for a long period after a spate of killer crashes.

At some point in Africa, we must begin to methodically interrogate each traffic death and heavily sanction the careless merchants of death. Life must not be cheap in Zimbabwe.

Name and shame . . .

On Sunday morning, this week, my family witnessed a top-drawer shocker! And we caught a bit of him on irrefutable video! The crazy driver of AAG6566 was happily perusing his Sunday paper whilst driving! The less sinful read-your-paper-as-you-drive malcontents will spread it on the passenger seat and occasionally sneak a glance from there.

The super rebel had his paper fully spread over his steering wheel and he casually drove in the inside lane down a long stretch of Borrowdale Road! Surely, ladies and gentlemen, if such is common behaviour on our roads, how do we ever hope to curtail the road carnage?

Suppose your eyes have caught a cannot-wait-to-read story, how about try parking off the road and safely read from there? Needless to say, the police have already contacted our friend, a hands-down champion fool – “Rombe Resvondo Rino” – and a leading early contender for the Driving Fool of the Year 2014!

Hoza Friday, let’s keep the driving “happy, happy!”

Gerald Maguranyanga moderates Road Safety Africa, on www.facebook.comRoadSafetyAfrica, a community page that encourages debate to curb road traffic crashes in Zimbabwe and Africa. Feedback: WhatsApp only please… +263 772205300

Source : The Herald