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Following Deadly Bus Crashes, Zimbabwe Eyes Tolls to Fund Highway Safety

Following two deadly bus crashes on Zimbabwean highways that claimed the lives of nearly 60 people in recent weeks, the Harare government is moving ahead to introduce toll roads that will generate the revenue needed to make the country's roadways safer.

Sesio Moyo, transport secretary for the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, said measures are in place to set up toll gates very soon.

Forty people died after a bus collided with a truck on the road from Harare to Masvingo Aug. 2, and another 17 were killed in another bus crash the following Sunday.

Following the latest highway tragedy, Transport Minister Nicholas Goche told the state-run Herald newspaper that the government is opening an investigation into transport operators which will focus among other points on whether they are hiring qualified bus drivers.

But MDC Transport Secretary Moyo told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the underlying cause is the decade-long collapse of the economy.

A World Health Organization report on road safety based on 2007 data shows Zimbabwe with some 27.5 traffic deaths per 100,000 population, compared with 33.2 in neighboring South Africa but just 13.9 in the United States and 5.4 in Britain.

Consumer Council of Zimbabwe Matabeleland Regional Officer Comfort Muchekeza said most major accidents involve public transport operators on the highways, suggesting that such accidents could be attributed to poor working conditions.

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