THIRTEEN people were killed and four others injured after a commuter minibus overshot a bridge and landed on a dry riverbed near Mbembesi, Matabeleland North, on Monday night, police said Tuesday.
A one-year-old baby was among the dead.
The Fort Rixon-bound Toyota Hiace minibus, known locally as a kombi, was carrying 17 passengers, said Senior Assistant Commissioner Martin Chari, the Officer Commanding Traffic.
The accident came just a day after another kombi travelling from Wedza to Chitungwiza burst a left tyre, rolled twice and landed on its roof. Six people were killed.
Senior Assistant Commissioner Chari said the Mbembesi minibus was overloaded and the driver was speeding, according to survivors.
The driver failed to negotiate the narrow Nonka River bridge – some 9km off the Gweru-Bulawayo highway – and the kombi dropped seven metres into the dry riverbed below.
“It appears the passenger-carrying service providers have sacrificed the value of life and treated it as a commodity for quick monetary returns,” Chari said.
“Recklessness, speeding and total disregard for vehicle worthiness and overloading continue to be characteristics of the kombis that we find on our roads. Equally, passengers are determined to get to their destinations despite observing the obvious and visible disregard for their safety.”
Chari said police would increase highway patrols and traffic stops targeting passenger vehicles to check overloading, vehicle roadworthiness, drivers’ competence, speed and sobriety.
Breathalysers – a recent addition to the traffic cops’ policing tools – would be used to flush out drink drivers.