ZRL Chief Executive Officer Christopher Musonda said in a statement that investigations conducted by a combined team of Zambia Railways Police and Traffic officers have revealed that the driver of the minibus, who was joining the main road from a nearby filling station, overtook four other cars that had stopped to give way to the train, in a bid to beat the passing locomotive.
“The accident happened at 05:40 hours when a privately owned Toyota Hiace minibus, registration number ABT 7428 was hit by a Ndola-bound Zambia Railways Train No 128, carrying 20 wagons of coal from Batoka in the Southern Province to Ndola on the Copperbelt. Time and time again, we have cautioned motorists never to ignore rail crossing signals and understand that the train has the right of way, but we have seen some motorists continue to disregard our call with impunity. This incident could have led into loss of life and massive damage to Zambia Railways property had it not been for the quick and cautious action by the train crew,” Musonda said.
The ZRL CEO said the driver of the minibus who fled the accident scene, escaped unhurt while his vehicle was extensively damaged.
“The mini bus driver identified as Troy ‘Shansha’ Bwanga, aged 40, of Marapodi Compound escaped unhurt while the vehicle he was driving was extensively damaged. He fled the scene shortly after the accident. Our Locomotive, which has since proceeded to the Copperbelt, had a cylinder break pipe damaged in the accident,” he said.
Musonda added that the accident underscores the need for a more aggressive campaign to educate the public on road safety as well as rampant encroachments, both of which he said were hampering the smooth running of Zambia Railways operations.
“In the recent past, Zambia Railways has experienced a number of similar accidents caused by non-adherence to basic rail safety rules by motorists. The rail giant has since introduced a ‘name and shame’ approach where names of culprits, including owners of the offending vehicles, will be published in the press, in addition to prosecutions in the courts of law and seeking of compensation,” said Musonda.
“We have engaged various stakeholders such as the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA), the Road Development Agency (RDA), Lusaka City Council, the Ministry of Lands, among others, in order to find a lasting solution to the problems of encroachments and rail-road safety in general.”