Mugabe in NY laments 'senseless loss' of lives in Zim bus crash

2017-06-09 11:42
Robert Mugabe (File: AFP)

Robert Mugabe (File: AFP)

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Harare - President Robert Mugabe has lamented the "senseless loss" of more than 40 lives in a bus crash this week on the main highway to Zambia.

Most of the dead were Zimbabwean cross-border traders on their way to Lusaka and then Malawi in search of goods to sell back home.

In a statement from New York where he is attending a UN summit on the oceans, Mugabe said: "The senseless loss of so many innocent lives in circumstances that could otherwise have been avoidable is heart-rending and most regrettable."

Crossborder traders

There are conflicting reports on the number of dead. State radio, quoting police, says that 45 people died, and more than 30 were injured. The state-run Herald on Friday puts the number of dead at 43.

“On behalf of Government and the people of Zimbabwe, my family and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to extend my sincere condolences to the affected families on the loss of their beloved ones," Mugabe added.

Overspeeding

Police investigations and accounts by survivors say the driver of the overcrowded 69-seater bus was on Wednesday night driving too fast along the treacherously windy northern road that links the capital Harare to the Zambian border post at Chirundu

The bus veered off the road at a curve and smashed into a tree.

National disaster

Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa told parliament on Thursday that the accident would be declared a national disaster.

In a separate statement he castigated public transport operators for putting people’s lives at risk by travelling in the dark and “chasing after profits without due regard to the safety of their patrons.” 

Zimbabwe’s International Cross-Border Traders Association (ICTA) said that 40 of those killed were cross-border traders, drawn from five of the country’s 10 provinces.

Other accidents

ICTA President Denis Juru called on the government to withdraw the passenger permit of the King Lion bus company. He cited several other accidents involving the company's buses in recent years that have claimed the lives of traders.

“So many children have been orphaned by the negligence of untrained King Lion bus drivers,” he said in a statement.

The company has not yet commented on the the tragedy.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  us  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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