RTSA has suspended the operating license for Mazhandu Family Bus Services owing to the company’s deteriorating road safety record.

Meanwhile, police spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo says nine of the 10 deceased victims have been identified.

At a media briefing in Lusaka today, RTSA chief executive officer Zindaba Soko said the agency was concerned with the continued abrogation of road safety rules by Mazhandu Family Bus Services.

“The agency wishes to reiterate with concern that the road safety record of operation for Mazhandu Family Bus Services has increasingly deteriorated from 2013 despite various engagements including road safety education and development of a road safety workplace police to which Mazhandu is one of the 30 companies which the RTSA is implementing this initiative. The agency notes with concern Mazhandu Family Bus Services have either failed or neglected to address the problem of over speeding in their operations and because of that, the nation has continued to lose people as a result of accidents that are otherwise preventable,” Soko said.

“The accidents involving the Mazhandu fleet of buses have been frequent as demonstrated above and are posing a serious danger to the public. In view of the foregoing, the Agency has with immediate effect suspended the Road Service Licence for Mazhandu pending investigations into the recent road traffic accidents in which 10 people died in Kabwe. Therefore we expect Mazhandu Family Bus to put in place necessary logistics and stop operations in the next 24 hours. Ladies and gentlemen, the Agency will not leave this deteriorating road safety records for Mazhandu unchecked, we therefore have to act now so that we can see change. If we do not act now we risk losing more people in road accidents in future.”

He said yesterday’s accident was as a result of negligence and speeding.

“On 30th of January, one Mazhandu Family bus with registration number ALZ 3197 had a road mishap in Kabwe earlier that evening at around 19:00 hours. The driver however used the same bus and started off the following day at around 05:00 despite assuring the passengers that the company would send another bus to continue with the journey. Further, one of the passengers has revealed the bus had a mechanical problem which led to diesel spilling on the tyres. However, the driver and the management of Mazhandu Family bus did not attend to this problem and opted to use the same bus with an alleged mechanical fault,” Soko said.

“On 31st of January, 2017, the same bus with registration number ALZ 3197 driven by Vincent Hangandu collided with a Freightliner truck registration number ACM 1160 belonging to Sandhu Transport around 05:40 hours on Great North road near Lwansimba between Kabwe and Kapiri Mposhi. Nine (09) people died on the spot from both vehicles: seven (07) from the bus and two (02) from the truck. The 10th victim died at the hospital leaving several injured. Preliminary investigations relating to the current accident have revealed that Vincent Hangandu lost control of the bus due to over speeding, the bus then swayed into the opposite lane where it collided with the south bound Freightliner truck.”

He recounted some of the other accidents which Mazhandu Family Bus Services had been involved in.

“The Road Transport and Safety Agency is deeply saddened with the loss of life and injury that has been occasioned by yet another bus belonging to Mazhandu Family Bus Services. You will recall that that the Road Transport and Safety Agency had engaged Mazhandu Family Bus Services on several occasions in the past four years regarding the poor road safety profile which had resulted in a number of accidents with a lot of lives being lost. The Agency on 7th of April, 2016 wrote to Mazhandu Family Bus Services requesting the company to show cause why the Road Service Licence (RSL) should not be suspended or revoked after one of their buses registration number ALP 5119 was involved in a road traffic accident along Great North road in Kapiri Mposhi area with sixty-one passengers on Board. Five (05) passengers died on the spot and two (02) died afterwards bringing the total number of fatalities to seven (07),” Soko said.

“Several other accidents had previously been recorded involving Mazhandu Family Bus Services fleet of buses as follows: On 9th and 16th January, 2015, two of your buses registration numbers ABZ 5921 and ALZ 4562 were involved in separate road traffic crashes in Central and Copperbelt Provinces respectively resulting in one (01) person dying and fourteen (14) others sustaining injuries; on 16th February, 2015, another bus registration number ACZ 4562 overturned at Kasongo area near Luanshya turn off on the Ndola-Kitwe dual carriageway with sixteen (16) people on board and one (01) person died on the spot with some sustaining injuries; and on 29th February 2016, another bus registration number ABK 8288 was involved in a road traffic accident around 0600 hours along Nakatindi road en route from Sesheke to Lusaka where one (01) person died on the spot.”

Meanwhile, Katongo told journalists that nine bodies had been identified so far.

“Nine of the 10 bodies of people who died in an accident yesterday between Kapiri Mposhi and Kabwe in Central Province have been identified. Only one still remains unidentified. Postmoterm will be conducted on seven bodies today and the bodies will be transported to Copperbelt and Lusaka respectively. Seven of the injured who were admitted in Kabwe General Hospital have been discharged while two are still admitted and also seven of the nine that were admitted in Kapiri Mposhi District hospital have been discharged,” said Katongo.