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Zimbabwe Opposition Faults Government On Deadly Train-Bus Collision

  • Jonga Kandemiiri
  • Thomas Chiripasi

The deadly collision between a commuter bus and a train in a suburb of Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, gave rise Wednesday to recriminations by the opposition, which faulted the government what it said was a failure to ensure transport safety.

Thirty-five people died in the crash in the Harare suburb of Dzivarasekwa.

At Harare's Parirenyatwa Hospital, Dr. Blessing Mukumba, leading the trauma team, said 15 victims had been admitted and two of those were receiving critical care.

It emerged Wednesday that the driver of the bus, Givemore Makowe, who was killed in the crash, was too young at 24 to hold a bus license, the Associated Press reported. And the bus itself was ordered off the roads last year for faulty brakes, AP said.

Meanwhile, political battle lines were being drawn around the issue of responsibility for the collision. Though witnesses said the driver of the overcrowded bus failed to stop to check the crossing, local residents said the crossing signal had not been functional for some time and that overgrown vegetation obscured visibility of the train line.

The National Railways of Zimbabwe and Harare City Council came under fire for the lack of a working signal at the level crossing and poor maintenance of the site.

The general condition of the railways is also at issue, and the opposition has called for a parliamentary investigation into the accident and transport safety in general.

Chairman Leo Mugabe of parliament's committee on transport and communications, a member of the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, declined comment but said his panel will meet at its normally scheduled time on Monday.

But parliamentarians of the Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai met on Wednesday and resolved to demand of Transport Minister Chris Mushowe what the government is doing to prevent more such accidents.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Tsvangirai faction and member of parliament for Kuwadzana, Harare, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that it is the duty of the opposition to press Harare on public safety issues.

Tsvangirai himself visited Dzivarasekwa and met with family members of some of the victims of the accident, as reporter Thomas Chiripasi reported.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...