Central Province Police Commissioner Chola Katanga says two people have died on the spot and many injured when a Scania Marcopolo Bus belonging to the Zambia Army failed to negotiate a curve and hit a tree along the Great North Road on its way to Lusaka from Mpika.

And PF media director Sunday Chanda has described as misplaced public outcry on why a Zambia Army vehicle was being used to ferry mourners, some of whom are said to be members of the ruling party.

Meanwhile, President Edgar Lungu has directed the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) to intensify highway patrols in a bid to reduce the number of deaths on our roads.

In an interview, Katanga said the driver, only identified as warrant officer Mulenga of the Zambia Army and a female identified as Mable Mwamba, died on the spot as a result of the impact.

“Fatal road traffic accident that happened along Great North Road on Thursday morning around 04:10 hours two kilometres west of Serenje turn-off. Involved was a Scania Marcopolo Bus registration numbers AB 1435 driven by warrant officer Mulenga, a soldier of Zambia Army with over 70 passengers on board from Mpika to Lusaka. The accident happened when the driver failed to negotiate a curve due to excessive speed and lost control of the motor vehicle due to excessive speed and went off the road and hit into a tree. As result of the impact, the driver and a female, identified as Mable Mwamba of George Compound, Lusaka, died on the spot and several passengers, including the co-driver are admitted in Serenje District Hospital. The vehicle is extensively front part damaged,” narrated Katanga.

But when images of the accident went viral on social media, netizens questioned why a Zambia Army bus was being used to ferry cadres.

Efforts to get a comment from the Zambia Army proved futile by press time as they could not be reached for a comment.

But Chanda it was not strange that the said bus was helping to ferry mourners.

“Before Petronella Bowa was a member of the party, she was a human being, a citizen, a family member and one who could have had a relative or close family friends working for ZAF, among others, who could have assisted in one way or another in this time of mourning. We have seen ZAF, Zambia Army and many parastatals helping with transport during so many bereavements in our communities, including those involving people without any political identity. We, therefore, find the debate highly misplaced and insensitive considering the circumstances we are dealing with right now. How many families across the country has ZAF and other institutions helped with transport to bury their loved ones? Do we even know who is going to be helped next?” asked Chanda in a separate interview.

And the PF secretary general Davies Mwila said the party was in shock as it had lost competent and dedicated members in such a short period of time.

“We are in shock and disbelief as a party that after losing a gallant member as Petronella (Bowa) was, today’s accident has robbed us of and left injured more of our members and other mourners. As we await more details from the police, I am reliably informed that one of the victims in today’s accident was her best friend, Mable Tembo, who reportedly died on the spot. We are at pains as a party that we have lost competent and dedicated members in such a short period. Our hearts are filled with a great sense of grief and shock. On behalf of the ruling party’s Central Committee and general membership, I wish to convey our deepest condolences to the grieving families. May the souls of the departed rest in peace. We also send messages of goodwill to all those nursing injuries as a result of this accident. We wish them quick recoveries,” said Mwila.

Meanwhile, President Lungu directed RTSA to intensify highway patrols in a bid to reduce the number of deaths on Zambian roads.

“I want to see intensified highway patrols because RTSA has equipment and vehicles to ensure motorists adhere to traffic rules. We cannot continue losing lives on the roads. Extremely sad that children are among the casualties in these accidents. My thoughts are with the grieving families right now,” said President Lungu in a statement issued via his Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe.

“His Excellency Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia is concerned that within hours, lives were lost through traffic accidents on the Copperbelt and in Muchinga Province. The President said he is sad that lives were lost in Mpika shortly after the accident on the Kitwe-Chingola Road. The President has also cautioned the public to observe traffic rules, including, adhering to speed limits and fastening of seat-belts by adults and children. The President wished the injured in the two accidents quick recovery.”