Horror crash: 2 bus operators’ licences suspended

Herald Reporter

Blue Circle and City Bus operations have been suspended with immediate effect in response to last week’s horror crash which claimed 13 lives and left scores injured along the Masvingo-Beitbridge Road.

The authorities found the two buses had violated regulations on road traffic and safety management.

In a statement, Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Felix Mhona said he had since directed the Commissioner of Road Transportation to invoke provisions of Section 17(b)(i) of the Road Motor Transportation Act and suspend, with immediate effect, the licences of Swaymo Enterprises Pvt Ltd trading as Blue Circle and Wipeco Investments (Pvt) Ltd trading as City Bus from operating all their buses on all routes.

Going into details, he said the City Bus vehicle, registration number AEU5845 and belonging to Wipeco Investments, did not have a valid certificate of fitness thus contravening Section 31 of the Road Traffic Act. 

“The vehicle also did not have a Speed Limiting Device as required by Section 3(1)(b) of Statutory Instrument 118 of 2023. In addition, the driver of this bus did not have a valid defensive driving certificate issued by the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe in terms of Section 4(b) of Statutory Instrument 168 of 2006. 

On the Blue Circle bus, he said: “Swaymo Enterprises Pvt Ltd did not cooperate with our investigations to establish the compliance status of the driver and vehicle registration number AEU6763. Therefore, our inference is that the driver was not compliant with the regulatory requirements prescribed under the above-mentioned statutes. 

“Similarly, the operator was not compliant with the same regulations including Section 12(1) of the Road Motor Transportation Act and thus did not have a route authority authorizing the bus to operate the service. 

“The above violations by the two bus operators are a serious breach of the terms and conditions of their operators’ licenses issued for them to operate in Zimbabwe,” said the Minsiter in the statement.

Zimbabwe Passenger Transport Organisation (ZPTO) vice chairperson, Dr Leonard Mukumba said as an association they had also suspended the two members.

“It’s sad that two of our members Blue Circle and City Bus have been suspended for failing to comply with the basic road requirements to operate. As an association we commend the Government for suspending the two operators after their findings. 

“We have also suspended the two pending investigation. The two ceased to be our members the moment they failed to comply and were suspended by the Government. We urge other members to make sure that they are operating within the confines of the law. 

“As we go into the Easter Holidays, we encourage authorities to take stern measures provided by our laws against those who wantonly and blatantly violate road traffic rules and regulations. The safety and security of all commuting public cannot be taken for granted,” Dr Mukumba said.

He said it was distressing that people were just buying buses but did not obtain the necessary paperwork.

“We want to make sure that all bus operators are in compliance with the law and that they have the necessary safety measures in place to protect their passengers.”

Government seeks to reduce road accidents and fatalities by 25 percent each year as outlined in the National Development Strategy 1 through education and enforcement of legislation.

More than 1000 bus drivers have been arrested by police in the last few months alone for offences including speeding, overloading, floating road regulations and road rage. The majority of the arrests were made during the festive holidays.

 Government has directed all public service vehicles, including buses, to be equipped with speed limiting and monitoring devices. The speed tracking system, which aligns with Statutory Instrument 118 of 2023, restricts the maximum speed of buses to 100km/h on open roads.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said most of the arrests were for bus drivers who were speeding. 

“In a concerted effort to enforce road regulations and enhance public safety, law enforcement authorities have arrested bus drivers for over speeding across the country. We continue to urge bus drivers to respect the sanctity of life and their passengers,” he said.

To facilitate effective monitoring, bus operators and police established a dedicated monitoring centre at Harare Central Police Station.

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