Three people were killed while 27 others were injured when a commuter omnibus side-swiped with a Mandaza bus in Hwedza (Wedza) on Monday.
In a statement released on 18 April, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the bus veered off the road before landing on its left side.
The accident occurred at the 29-kilometre peg along Wedza- Mutiweshiri Road. Said Asst Comm. Nyathi:
… the Zimbabwe Republic Police, recorded another fatal road traffic accident which occurred on 17th April 2023 at the 29-kilometre peg along Wedza- Mutiweshiri Road in which three people died on the spot whilst twenty-seven (27) others were injured when a commuter omnibus side swiped with a Mandaza bus, resulting in the bus veering off the road before landing on its left side.
The bodies of the victims were taken to St Mary’s Hospital, Wedza for post-mortem while the injured are admitted at the same hospital.
He said the three (3) victims have been identified by their next of kin as follows:
- Agnes NYADONGO (53), a female adult of Gombe Village, Mutare,
- Caroline BANDA (34), of Dora, Dangamvura, Mutare,
- Nenyasha DARARA, a female infant aged four (4), of Dora Dangamvura, Mutare.
Asst Comm. implored public service vehicle drivers to be cautious on the roads and comply with all road rules and regulations to safeguard lives.
Meanwhile, a concerned citizen, Diva Mandeya said authorities are unprepared to respond to disasters such as major accidents.
In a post on Twitter, Mandeya narrated how members of the public worked with authorities with very few resources to save people who were trapped in the wreckage of the Mandaza Bus. Below is Mandeya’s Twitter thread:
[AT] 9 am we got an alarm a fatal accident had happened 2.5km from Goto Business Center paGanyau.
I quickly changed my itinerary and rushed with 2 employees to see what help we could render. 20 mins later we discovered we were in for a huge responsibility.
A few motorists were already ferrying the injured to our poorly equipped clinic at Goto, 3km away.
There were people trapped under the bus lying on its side & a child could be heard crying helplessly.
It was a hounding & desperate situation that villagers frantically pulling out the injured could not do much about.
Shortly police officers arrived but they were bemused by the magnitude of the crisis.
Traffic control on the highway became orderly but there was no command on how to proceed with the rescue mission.
There was total confusion. More officers and an ambulance arrived in good time including nursing staff from Mt St Mary’s Mission Hospital 27 km away.
Commendably, the injured were ferried to the local clinic in the ambulance and several private vehicles.
The real problem was what to do with the trapped of which the crisis was magnified by haphazard police action.
There was absolutely no command element directing operations. Every person who had an idea tried to prevail over the other but there was no meaningful rescue effort.
There was no qualified rescue personnel until a Marondera fire brigade rescue team arrived 4 hrs later from 100km away.
We mobilized a tractor from a local businessman but it could not pull the bus to save the trapped.
Later a JCB from Wedza GP arrived & combined wt the tractor to lift the bus off the trapped people but failed.
We ended up using jacks, picks, and shovels to try and dig the people out to no avail. We could see & tell the people had died.
In spite of warnings from police about damaging the bus we used axes to cut up metal but we fell short until we rushed back home to get a generator and a grinder which become the best improvisation.
After some arduous cutting and bending we managed to retrieve the first body 5 hours later. 2 were still trapped.
Working with the ill-equipped Marondera men we retrieved the other two bodies around 4 pm amid wailing and heart-rending mourning from relatives who had arrived from Mutare, almost 200km away.
I feel haunted as l write this thread now. The sounds are ringing in my ears as l type. It’s traumatic.
l feel that some of the accidents happening in this country can be avoided.
a). Highways must not be left littered with deep potholes
b) Speed dzemabhazi anonzi Yuotong are not appropriate for our roads.
c) Police need emergency rescue training. They were clueless.
d) Every district must have appropriate rescue equipment & services
e) Accident scenes or any crime scene must have a clear command element and structure.
f) Highways need centre line markings and overtaking restriction lines.
g) Overloading is going unchecked.
h) The Youtong bell/ hooter is too alarming. It can cause dangerous panic and disorientation to other motorists.
These are my humble recommendations. I am not OK tonite. We have responsibilities that we need to embrace as citizens of Zim.
May the souls of the deceased RIP
PS. Mandaza Bus Company only brought contingency for the recovery of their bus. Damaged luggage and stranded passengers had nowhere to go and no recourse.
We had to ferry, accommodate & feed 6 survivors whose fate is unclear as far as compensation is concerned.
The accident occurred a day after another bus accident claimed the lives of 13 people near Chivhu.