ZIMBABWE has the highest road crash mortality rate among its neighbours averaging 35 per 100 000. This was highlighted in a recently released “World Health Organisation (WHO) Road Safety Performance Review”.
The report reveals that at least five people die in road traffic accidents every 24-hours in Zimbabwe, giving the country the worst mortality rate in the SADC region.
Some of the factors contributing to these high figures include bad road infrastructure, unroadworthy vehicles, and unlicensed drivers.
The recently released Road Safety Performance Review report found that Zimbabwe recorded a 77% increase in the use of secondhand vehicles on public roads between 2011 and 2019.
The study found up to 1,5 million new cars were in circulation, the majority of the drivers inexperienced and unlicensed.
Report Consultant Dr George Vera says this largely contributes to road accidents. “The number of cars doubled that means we injected 800 000 drivers who were not driving before and a lot of these people are not experienced. You know driving has a lot to do with experience but of course, there are those renegades who drive around with fake drivers licenses some of them drive around without licenses at all. But that is the job of our enforcement officers to catch them and weed them out because they do contribute to accidents.”
Although there are a lot of driving schools in Zimbabwe, the biggest challenge faced by many is to acquire the metal disk once one completes the road test.
Some people have been waiting for close to 5-years now to get the printed license disk. Driving School Instructor, T Shangwe says it can take three to four years to get the license disk.
“For somebody to get a driver’s license, on our side it’s very easy but the only problem is the CVR department. If you get a license today it will take you 3 to 4 years to get the disc. If you ask the CVR department they say they are facing challenges in getting the raw materials.”
In 2020, the central vehicle registry which has the sole mandate to produce the license discs revealed that it was printing out 48 discs per day; creating a major backlog. However, authorities say they are putting plans to address the issue and decentralize the process.
Managing Director for Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, Clifford Gobo says, “Looking at our licensing system, you open more depots so that we don’t have people clogging. Especially if you check at the vid depot in Harare most people would like to come and do their licenses there, so through devolution, I have seen vid has plans to open up new deports.”
Research by the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe in 2018 showed that the country lost about $406-million annually from an average 40 000 road traffic accidents every year, translating to 3% of the country’s GDP.