Rusape ac­ci­dent: Sur­vivors re­live har­row­ing mo­ments

The Manica Post - - Front Page - Sa­muel Kadun­gure and Love­more Kadzura Post Re­porters

THE fugi­tive driver of the Harare-bound Smart bus — Cos­mas Marembo — was trav­el­ling at nearly twice the speed limit when he tried to over­take two ve­hi­cles at a sharp curve, lead­ing to a side swipe with an­other on­com­ing coach that killed 47 peo­ple — 45 of them on the spot — on Wed­nes­day evening.

About 80 pas­sen­gers from both buses sur­vived the ac­ci­dent with var­i­ous in­juries.

Three were trans­ferred to Parireny­atwa Hospi­tal by an am­bu­lance ow­ing to the se­ri­ous na­ture of their in­juries.

The names of the de­ceased had not been re­leased at the time of go­ing to print as their rel­a­tives had not been con­tacted.

The ac­ci­dent, in which the Smart bus was side-swiped by a Mutare-bound Bolt Cut­ter bus, oc­curred around 6pm at the 166km peg along the Mutare-Harare High­way.

Both driv­ers were said to be speed­ing by sur­vivors and wit­nesses.

A wit­ness, Mr Bezel Mapiye said the Harare-bound bus was trav­el­ling at “tremen­dous speed.”

“The Smart bus was trav­el­ling at a tremen­dous speed to­wards Harare, and on ap­proach­ing the curve, at­tempted to over­take two haulage trucks, re­sult­ing in the ac­ci­dent.

“The driver and the con­duc­tor sur­vived the ac­ci­dent and fled the scene while their coun­ter­parts in the other bus died on the spot.

“We did not have spe­cialised equip­ment to cut the wreck­ages and res­cue those trapped in­side.

“We had to im­pro­vise. We had to pull the wreck­age with a chain hooked on the fire ten­der,” said Mr Mapiye.

Sur­vivors who spoke to The Man­ica Post echoed Mr Mapiye’s sen­ti­ments.

Mr Oba­diah Washaya, who was on the Smart bus said he was lucky to be alive.

He was dis­charged yes­ter­day morn­ing and led po­lice with in­di­ca­tions at the scene.

He said the Smart bus driver was speed­ing and at­tempted to over­take a haulage truck and a Toy­ota Wish at the curve.

This, he said, re­sulted in the bus en­croach­ing into the lane of the on­com­ing Bolt Cut­ter bus.

He also blamed the other driver for speed­ing too say­ing if he was trav­el­ling at reg­u­lated speed, he could have slowed to avert the dis­as­ter.

“The Smart Ex­press driver tried to over­take a haulage truck and a Toy­ota Wish at the curve. He failed to beat those ve­hi­cles on time as the Bolt Cut­ter bus was very close.

“When a head on col­li­sion was al­most about to oc­cur, the Smart bus swerved to the ex­treme right of the op­po­site lane in an at­tempt to avoid the col­li­sion.

“His ac­tions were, how­ever, a shade too slow as the Bolt Cut­ter bus hit the Smart bus on the area around the back wheels. It was a big bang and I do not know how I sur­vived with th­ese mi­nor in­juries be­cause the bus was hit right where I was seated.

“Peo­ple screamed and yelled. I have never seen so many dead peo­ple in my whole life,” he said.

“I saw the Smart Ex­press driver and the con­duc­tor run­ning away. The Bolt Cut­ter driver died on the spot. Both buses were speed­ing,” said Mr Washaya.

Seti Mushanyuki, of Chikanga, who was aboard the Bolt Cut­ter bus de­scribed his con­di­tion as crit­i­cal, adding that nurses and doc­tors were reg­u­larly at­tend­ing to him.

Mr Tichaona Chi­monyo, of Mu­toko, said his rel­a­tives were not aware of his predica­ment.

Mr Maxwell Rushambwa, a wit­ness also blamed the ac­ci­dent on speed­ing.

“The cause of the ac­ci­dent was tremen­dous speed. If the driver of the Harare-bound bus was trav­el­ling at a safe speed, he could have con­trolled the coach. Man­i­ca­land roads have sharp curves and steep ter­rain not ideal for those with an ap­petite for speed­ing,” said Mr Rushambwa.

The buses have since been im­pounded by Rusape po­lice for in­spec­tion by VID.

Min­is­ter of State for Man­i­ca­land Pro­vin­cial Af­fairs, Dr Ellen Gwaradz­imba and Trans­port and In­fra­struc­ture De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter, Cde Joel Big­gie Ma­tiza yes­ter­day vis­ited the vic­tims at Rusape Gen­eral Hospi­tal.

They said Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa had do­nated $500 per be­reaved per­son.

The In­sur­ance Coun­cil of Zim­babwe will cater for the in­jured’s med­i­cal bills.

Higher Life Foun­da­tion has do­nated food­stuffs to both vic­tims and be­reaved fam­i­lies.

The scene of the hor­rific ac­ci­dent which claimed 47 lives

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