Government has constituted a taskforce to compile a list of all accident victims so that transport operators can compensate the affected people, Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Engineer Michael Madanha has said. He said the taskforce had already made progress in ensuring that victims were not shortchanged by public service vehicle operators and insurance companies. Government always takes the responsibility of burying people who die in bus accidents, letting off the hook the transporters and the insurers. Eng Madanha said this on the sidelines of a train the trainer workshop on tyre safety hosted for the Zimbabwe Republic Police by the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe in Harare on Monday.
“The task force has compiled a list of the deceased and injured in recent public service road crashes and have visited the victims to establish the status of compensation payment. They are now working on measures to compel responsible parties to pay out. “We are saying that every victim of a road crash must get the compensation that is due to them. There are insurers who should pay that compensation. Otherwise we want to know where all the premiums that are being paid to insurance companies are going. That money is to provide for such instances and not to enrich some individuals without them providing requisite services,” he said. Eng Madanha’s remarks come after road crash victims in many major accidents have not received compensation from public transport operators’ insurers. According to the Road Traffic Act 13.11 Part VA, all road crash victims are entitled to various amounts ranging between $200 and $2 000. Death and permanent disability in adults on the spot or within 12 months of the event have payment rates of up to $2 000 while funeral and medical costs are covered up to $350. Children under the age of six years get $200 while those older than six but younger than 14 are entitled to $350 as compensation for death or disability.
Disability levels are determined according to the Degree of Disablement Schedule of National Social Security Association (Accident Prevention and Workers Compensation Scheme) Notice SI68 1990. Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe managing director Mr Obio Chinyere said his organisation would ensure that all victims were compensated. “The Traffic Safety Council is the lead agency in precrash and postcrash processes. Therefore we are also an interested party in terms of compensation. We are working flat out as mandated by the ministry to make sure that all victims get what they are supposed to get,” said Mr Chinyere. He said most families who lost members in major disasters received assistance from Government, giving the impression that transport insurers were part of the deal. Among those who are expected to access compensation under this initiative are the injured and beneficiaries of those who died at the 232km peg along the HarareBulawayo Highway last month when a Pfochez bus burst a tyre and sideswiped a MercedesBenz Sprinter. None of the victims have been compensated as yet following an accident that killed 30 people.
Recently another state of disaster was declared after a BM bus killed 12 people and injured 45 along MasvingoBeitbridge Road. The fine for not having statutory valid insurance cover note for a public service vehicle is a fine and or a prison term not exceeding three months for the owner. Victims are covered without consideration of the cause of the crash. Eng Madanha said centralisation and digitalisation of insurance cover notes issuance was expected soon. Mr Farium Alex Kautsiro, chief executive of Coach and Bus Operators’ Association, conceded that many road crash victims were not compensated. “It indeed appears so, mainly due to the process that needed to be undertaken in order to access compensation upon an accident occurring.” He, however, indicated that the process had been simplified in some cases. “In essence victims should immediately lodge their claim either at the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe (ICZ) or the insurance company of the transporter. As of last year ICZ and CBOA have enhanced their relations to the extent that claims can be processed immediately but this only covers our members as CBOA.” Mr Bright Kuzora, operations officer for Arrive Alive Awareness, an organisation campaigning for road safety awareness, said that ignorance was the biggest factor stopping victims from making claims. “People do not know that they are entitled to compensation or how to go about it.”