Zimbabwe’s Road Safety Crisis: Fatalities Surge

Accidents Rise 7.9%, Vehicle Registrations Soar, Urgent Action Needed

by Adenike Adeodun

In the latest report released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat), a concerning uptick in road traffic accidents has been observed, with 552 fatalities reported in the last quarter. This marks a 7.9% increase compared to the figures from the third quarter of 2023, highlighting a growing issue within the country’s road safety and traffic management systems. Mable Chimhore, presenting the 4th Quarter 2023: Transport Statistics Report, detailed these figures and emphasized the urgent need for interventions.

The report not only sheds light on the fatalities but also points to the 2,663 individuals who sustained injuries in these accidents. With a total of 13,552 road traffic incidents reported during this period, it’s clear that the frequency and severity of these accidents are on a distressing rise. This 7.9% increase from the 12,564 incidents reported in the preceding quarter underscores a worrying trend that demands immediate attention from both the government and public health sectors.

Comparatively, Zimbabwe’s road traffic accident mortality rate is alarmingly high on a global scale. A World of Statistics report from the previous year ranked Zimbabwe with a mortality rate of 41 deaths per 100,000 people due to road traffic accidents. This places Zimbabwe significantly higher than many other nations, with the Dominican Republic leading the list at 65 deaths per 100,000 and Sweden at the opposite end with only two. Such statistics starkly illustrate the dire state of road safety in Zimbabwe and call for comprehensive strategies to mitigate these risks.

Amidst these sobering figures on road safety, the report also highlights some developments in the country’s transport sector. A significant increase in vehicle registrations was noted in the last quarter, with 27,441 vehicles being registered for the first time, marking a 32.2% rise from the third quarter of 2023. This surge in new vehicle registrations, especially light motor vehicles which saw a 34.8% increase to 21,550, reflects a growing demand for personal and commercial transportation. However, this rise also underscores the need for enhanced road safety measures and infrastructure to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles on the roads.

Further insights from the report reveal concerning statistics regarding driver competence. Of the 70,461 candidates who underwent the certificate of competence test during the 4th quarter, only 39.4% were successful. This low pass rate, particularly outside the provinces of Manicaland and Mashonaland East, where more than half of the candidates passed, suggests a significant gap in driving skill and knowledge among a substantial portion of drivers. This gap is likely contributing to the high incidence of road traffic accidents and points to an urgent need for improved driver education and training programs.

The transport report also documented a decrease in the number of flights at the country’s international airports (excluding military flights), with a notable 25.3% decline at Victoria Falls International Airport from the third to the fourth quarter of 2023. While passenger numbers increased at other airports, the decrease in flights at Victoria Falls highlights the variability in air travel demand and operational challenges faced by the aviation sector.

Moreover, the report touches on the maritime and rail transport sectors, noting a significant 264% decrease in the registration of new inland water vessels and a 29.3% drop in the volume of goods transported by rail from the third to the fourth quarter. These figures reflect broader challenges in the transport sector, including infrastructure, regulatory, and operational issues that need to be addressed to enhance efficiency and safety across all modes of transportation.

In conclusion, the ZimStat 4th Quarter 2023: Transport Statistics Report presents a mixed picture of Zimbabwe’s transport sector. While there are signs of growth and increased activity in vehicle registrations and some areas of passenger travel, the stark increase in road traffic accidents and fatalities, coupled with concerns over driver competence and declines in certain transport modes, highlights critical areas for intervention. Addressing these challenges will require a concerted effort from government agencies, the private sector, and civil society to implement effective road safety measures, improve transportation infrastructure, and enhance the overall efficiency of the transport system. Only through such comprehensive approaches can Zimbabwe hope to improve its transport safety record and ensure the well-being of its citizens on the road.


Source: Newsday

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