Nyaradzo Group partners TSCZ in curbing road accidents


On average, close to 2000 people die each year on Zimbabwe’s roads

EACH year, precious lives are needlessly lost on the country’s roads owing to various factors, the main one being human error.

On average, close to 2000 people die each year on Zimbabwe’s roads, which translates to at least five people losing their lives prematurely on a daily basis due to road traffic accidents.

This is a tragedy by any other name.

It is for this reason that one of the country’s leading brands, Nyaradzo Group, has partnered with the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) in programmes meant to reduce carnage on the roads.

The partnership, which has been running since last year, is aimed at raising public awareness on the dangers associated with disregarding rules and regulations governing the conduct of drivers while behind the wheel as well as alerting them about other factors that contribute to loss of life and limb while travelling.

TSCZ’s traffic safety officer, Tatenda Chinoda, said the partnership has gone a long way towards making road users conscious of their obligations as well as the risks that might arise while on the road.

It involves sponsorship of media awards to make sure scribes from both the print and electronic media bring to the fore matters to do with road safety.

This year, TSCZ held the third edition of the Road Safety Journalistic Awards, held under the theme “Towards Taming the Traffic Jungle in Zimbabwe”, where participants said there was clear evidence of a marked improvement in press coverage involving road safety issues ever since the competition was launched.

Nyaradzo recently ran a radio programme on StarFM dubbed “Let’s Talk About It”. One of the key topics of discussion on the programme was the “Fambai Kwakachena” Campaign which is aimed at encouraging people to drive during daylight hours. “Let’s Talk About It” has gained popularity among StarFM’s listeners.

It is often said that while driving in the daylight can be hazardous, driving at night doubles the risk of a car accident occurring. It is with this in mind that Nyaradzo thought it appropriate to warn drivers about the dangers of driving at night.

Chinoda said the partnership with Nyaradzo extends to the production of material used during awareness campaigns such as road safety fliers; key rings to remind drivers of the value of life whenever they put their keys on the ignition, and posters and banners for distribution in government departments, offices and schools where they are being used as teaching aids.

Describing Nyaradzo Group as their “confirmed, perennial road safety partner”, Chinoda had this to say about the partnership.

“It’s quite a shot in the arm for us towards safety of people on the road,” he said. “Every one of us uses the road at one point or another hence we must all get involved in this programme. As for the corporate sector, some of the accident victims are workers, executives, etc., which should make it everyone’s concern,” added Chinoda.

Nyaradzo Group’s corporate communications manager, Kudzai Mpunzwana, weighed in saying the dominant message being put across through the campaign is that “safety comes first”.

“Our safety record speaks for itself. While accidents do happen, we are doing our very best as Nyaradzo Group to keep our fleet in good condition and to equip our drivers with the necessary skills required to preserve life and their equipment while on the road – making them believers in the safe travel gospel,” said Mpunzwana.

“All our public vehicles are monitored through a tracking system which forms part of our internal controls to ensure compliance with speed limits applicable on our roads. Even where traffic regulations permit speeds of up to 120km/hr, we still insist that our drivers should not exceed 80km per hour, except in wide tarred roads, and that our journeys be done during the day to avoid driving at night,” she added.

Mpunzwana said Nyaradzo Group decided to partner TSCZ, the principal agent in promoting traffic safety, to help spread the message across.

“While on the road, our drivers interact with other road users. An error, which many not necessarily be theirs might affect them as well hence the need for all road users to embrace road safety,” said Mpunzwana, adding that Nyaradzo, despite one of their divisions being involved in offering funeral services, wants their clients, existing and potential, to live long so that they can continue to contribute to their families and the well being of the country’s economy.

She said its only when the country is doing well and individuals and their families are prospering that Nyaradzo succeeds as a business.

Because Nyaradzo Group owns a sizeable fleet of buses and hearses, they could not afford to be left behind in promoting safe road usage.

The group runs internal programmes involving training and re-training of its drivers on how to act responsibly while on the country’s roads in order to safeguard both life and the company’s equipment.

Mpunzwana said as part of their training manual, their drivers must not do anything that puts lives at risk.

For instance, faced with flooded rivers or overflowing bridges they don’t take chances. Neither do they experiment during bad weather when countryside roads become slippery and impassable.

“Our drivers are the ones who make the final judgement on the accessibility of any road. They are our representatives out there and their top priorities are first, to safeguard lives and second, to protect assets,” she said.

Whenever the weather gets bad, so do the roads. Car accidents happen often in the rain because water creates slick and dangerous surfaces for cars, trucks and motorcycles and other classes of automobiles to spin out of control or skid while braking.

It therefore means that to avoid accidents their drivers take extra care when it rains.

And whenever there is loss of life, the burden befalling families left behind is enormous. To begin with, there is the psychological trauma associated with unexpectedly losing a loved one.

The resultant emotional scars can even last forever especially in the absence of professional advice from trained counsellors or support from neighbours and communities.

There is also the important aspect of burial arrangements involved. Where there is no funeral policy, a lot of money has got to be found and expended towards laying the deceased to rest.

It is not uncommon that relatives and friends of the deceased often must travel long distances from all corners of the world in order to be there as well when their dear departed embark on their final journey to their resting place.

But that is just the beginning.

In the case of the deceased being the breadwinner, families are forced to put their heads together to fend for those who would have been left behind.

In the case of injuries occurring during accidents, the burden immediately falls on those paying for the costs of medical services.

Considering that services at public hospitals and municipal clinics are heavily subsidized, the inescapable reality is that the taxpayer cannot run from this one. The strain on the country’s already overburden health delivery sector and the taxpayer therefore becomes unbearable.

But that is not all.

One would be lucky to escape a road traffic accident unscathed. Varying degrees of injuries usually occur during accidents, some of which can be permanent.

Statistics gleaned from the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s annual traffic report indicate that between 2009 and 2014 at least 38 people were injured daily in road traffic accidents.

Most families have therefore endured the pain and agony of taking care of relatives condemned to wheelchairs for the rest of their lives due to road traffic accidents. Some have even gone blind, never to regain their sight.

The list is endless.

While the blame is sometimes placed on the state of our roads, the buck should stop with the road users who contribute to more than 90 percent of the road traffic accidents.

By taking part in road safety campaigns, Sahwira Mukuru, as Nyaradzo is affectionately known, is on the right track.

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