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21 Dead in Zimbabwe Bus Crash, Human Error Cited

Twenty-one people died on Monday morning when a bus traveling from Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, to South Africa veered off the road and flipped along the accident-prone Masvingo-Beitbridge highway.

Police reported that 17 passengers were seriously injured while 45 were said to be in stable condition. The bus, owned by Mega-Link, overturned near Ngundu, a village located 92 km out of Masvingo town.

Witness accounts said the driver, who was allegedly speeding, failed to negotiate a curve and lost control of the vehicle. Twenty people, including the driver, died on the spot, while one passenger passed at the Masvingo General Hospital.

The accident came barely a week after another horrific crash along the Gwanda-Beitbridge highway that killed 12 people, including a pregnant woman. All the passengers were bound for South Africa.

About 50 people died in road accidents nationwide during the Easter Holiday.

The country’s road network is said to be among the worst in the region, and though some accidents are attributable to human error, most are a direct result of poor infrastructure, reeling from lack of funding.

Zimbabwe National Roads Administration spokesman, Augustine Moyo, told VOA that his agency needs about $2 billion to upgrade the roads to safety standards.

"Our allocation for the 2012 fiscal year to road authorities is $33 million, and we do not have any other means by which we can obtain additional funding," Moyo said.

The agency does not receive any funding from the national fiscus, Moyo explained. Its funds are collected from road users, in the form of toll gates and other charges.

Lawmaker, Albert Mhlanga, a member of the parliamentary committee on transport and infrastructure development, said government was pulling out all the stops to fix the roads.

But the problem, he added, was finding investors willing to take up road development contracts.