Acting President Dr Constantino Chiwenga has directed the police to adopt stringent measures against motorists and public transporters who overspeed so that they exercise extra caution on the roads to minimise road traffic accidents.

He said this in the wake of a horror crash involving a bus, a haulage truck and a Mercedes Benz vehicle that killed five people along the Harare-Mutare highway on Wednesday.

Yesterday afternoon, a Mwayera bus veered off the road at the 42km peg along the Buhera-Murambinda Road before landing on its roof, leaving 18 passengers injured.

Police said the Harare-bound bus had 63 occupants. The injured passengers were referred to Chivhu Hospital for medical attention while one passenger had been treated and discharged by late yesterday. Eighty-seven people have been killed and 424 injured in 1 194 road accidents recorded between December 15 and 26.

From January up to now, over 600 people have been killed in road accidents across the country, a development that requires drivers to take utmost care to save lives.

In a statement on Thursday, Chiwenga said: “Whilst efforts are being made to give education and awareness on traffic safety on our highways, all motorists and public transport operators are implored to always exercise a high degree of caution and care on the roads. “Law enforcement agencies and responsible authorities, including the Zimbabwe Republic Police will ensure that stringent measures are taken to deal with errant drivers along major highways. Culprits will face the full wrath of the law.”

He urged passengers to contribute towards their safety and prevent drivers from speeding.

“As we count our losses and mourn the deceased (from the Harare-Mutare accident), it is my sincere hope that this will be a wake-up call and serve as an opportunity for all of us to fulfil a collective responsibility towards the safety of all travellers,” said Chiwenga.

A number of the accidents have been attributed to human error, especially overtaking errors, resulting in more head-on collisions being recorded.

Other vehicles are said to be unroadworthy resulting in accidents.

Following the high number of road accidents, some drivers have urged the Government to make the defensive driving course mandatory for all drivers to minimise accidents.

This comes amid reports that some drivers accelerate when they notice someone overtaking, instead of making way to prevent a head-on collision.

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural development and the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe have this year been providing road safety advice for the holiday season, focusing on prevention so that everyone drives safely. Being a rainy season, drivers are advised to exercise extra caution on the roads as rain reduces visibility, makes roads slick and increases the risk of vehicles being washed away by flooded rivers.