Monday, 28 September 2015

Corruption Fuels Increase In Zimbabwe's Road Traffic Accidents

SOME time in 2013, at least 13 people died on the spot when a speeding minibus veered off Chitungwiza road and grazed a tree before it was reduced to a mass of mangled steel.

Observers laid the blame on the police traffic section and the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID).

“I blame the police and VID for the death of these innocent people,” said one commentator.
Corruption Fuels Increase In Zimbabwe's Road Traffic Accidents
“I heard the driver’s license was endorsed for some traffic offence and the big question is why he was allowed to drive a public transport vehicle without a valid licence? If this is not corruption, then I wonder what it is.”

Obtaining a driver’s licence is a choice between the hardway of going through the oral and practical test and the easy and illegal route of buying your licence aided by corrupt inspectors and middlemen.

One such broker, Partson Ndamba (not real name), is a familiar figure at the VID depot in Eastlea, Harare where he is often seen mingling with prospective drivers waiting outside the yard and exchanging greetings with staff.

In the normal sequence of events, he accosts a prospective client, engages in a quick chat, accompanies the client into the yard and later the client is seen coming out wearing a smile of one who has struck a good deal.

“My brother do you want a driver’s license?” Ndamba is seen accosting another client without even bothering to make his intentions discreet.

“I can facilitate one for you, you do not have to go for a road test. Can I assist you?”

The VID premises have come to be associated with corruption involving officials and non-officials ripping off license seekers of their hard earned money.

The detrimental effects of this roat are manifesting themselves on the country’s roads where half-baked drivers are accounting for the rising rate of accidents.
There is a widespread perception that the majority of drivers could have paid bribes to get their licenses. VID officials have been accused of making it impossible for one to obtain a licence without paying a bribe of between $150 and $200 — even after passing the road test with driving schools’ instructors said to be the main links between a license seeker and the VID instructors.

Cashing in on the rampant corruption, five Harare men pretending to be VID officials duped gullible people of cash amounts of between $200 and $300 issuing them fake driver’s licenses.

According to court papers, Tendai Chipunza (32), Nyarai Chifamba (35), Peter Nyangoni (36), Tendekai Madongorere (40) and Taderera Gideon (42) wore VID uniforms before misrepresenting themselves to driver’s license seekers as VID officers instructing the victims to pay through ecocash.

Magistrate Jabulani Mzinyathi said the five were part of the people fuelling the occurrence of road accidents in the country.

“You are not worthy of bail. The occurrence of massive road accidents in the country is a result of people like you who are unleashing drivers’ licenses to unsuitable drivers,” said magistrate Mzinyathi.

According to court papers, on August 1 2015, police detectives recovered VID white shirts, used in committing the crime, an Econet buddie line, five fake drivers’ license discs and a number of driver’s license photos from three of the accused.

A senior VID officer who declined to be named confirmed the existence of bogus VID officers.

“We do have cases of people being duped by some people who claim to be VID officers,” said the officials.

“These people do wear our uniforms and at times they deliver the discs to those seeking them. But most people are victims of fake discs. Some people come to the office crying after losing money to these people. There is need for the department to work well with the police to arrest bogus VID officers.”

The official told this paper that bogus officers do purchase VID shirts in Harare (shop name supplied) where they costs around $8.

Presenting oral evidence before a parliamentary portfolio on Transport and Infrastructure development in July this year, Chief Vehicle Inspector in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Department Johannes Pedzapasi blamed driving schools saying they misrepresent to their clients that they would not obtain licenses if they do not pay bribes.

“Driving schools fleece their clients after misrepresenting them that they have to bribe to get the license,” he said.

Pedzapasi, who was responding to the questions on what his organisation was doing to curb corruption at VID, told the parliamentarians that 20 VID staffers have been fired since 2009 for corruption while the Chiredzi Depot was closed at one time for the same reasons.

He said over 140 drivers’ licenses have been cancelled for the same reasons.

According to the Zimbabwe Republic Police National Traffic Branch Report 93,4% of all crashes recorded during the 2014/2015 festive period were a result of human error.

According to the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) human error manifests in various ways involving all human traffic, push cart operators ,rank marshals, vendors, passengers, cyclists, animal herders and drovers, horse riders and drivers. Driver errors are clearly the major cause of road traffic crashes.

It is against this background that the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe has adopted the road safety campaign theme: Eradicating Human Error inroad Traffic Collisions as a direct way of addressing the road traffic challenges posed by human error.

According to the Zimbabwe Republic Police National Traffic Branch Annual Report (2014), a total of 37619 road traffic crashes were recorded from January 2013 to December 2013 as compared to 41016 from January 2014 to December 2014 reflecting a nine percent increase in the number of road traffic collisions in Zimbabwe.

From 2009 to 2014, an average of 1824 people died every year in Zimbabwe due to road traffic injuries.

This means that about five people die every day on the roads in Zimbabwe and 38 others are injured daily.

Mary Kamushanga (31) of Igava in Marondera who is now wheelchair bound following an accident in a vehicle with an unlicensed driver on the wheel, said: “On that day I did not know that the pirate taxi driver was unlicensed. We knew him plying the route. But when he tried to overtake while approaching a curve, this is when he lost it, we crashed and I lost both legs. My
two-year-old daughter died and I was hurt to learn that he had no driver’s license.”

Zimbabwe was ranked 156 out of 175 highly corrupt countries in the 2014 Global Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International which ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived.
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