Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Weekender Reporter
Villagers from the surrounding community, passengers in buses and other vehicles ignored a trapped driver and quickly helped themselves to bananas that were strewn all over the Mutare-Harare highway after a haulage truck ferrying bananas from Chipinge to Harare was involved in a head-on collision with a Toyota Delta at the 220km peg along the Harare-Mutare highway on Monday night.
The truck driver later died. But the driver of the Toyota Delta escaped with injuries while 30 tonnes of bananas worth $24 000 were destroyed.
Motorists, passengers and some villagers could be seen carrying big sacks and baskets full of bananas to their homesteads, while passengers filled their buses and cars with the fruit.
The truck, belonging to banana producer, Matanuska, was travelling from Chipinge to Harare while the small vehicle was headed towards Mutare.
According to eye witnesses at the scene of the accident in the early hours of yesterday morning, the driver of the Toyota Delta encroached into the truck’s lane resulting in the head-on collision. The truck overturned, hitting a Trip Trans bus that was headed towards Mutare before landing on the side of the road.
The Toyota Delta caught fire and a team of fire fighters had to be called in to put it out and rescue the driver of the truck who had been trapped inside the vehicle.
Manicaland police spokesman Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa confirmed the accident.
“The accident occurred at the 220km peg near Shamhu business centre. Forward Chigaro (26) of House Number 11 Emarald Hill, Harare was driving a Toyota Delta towards Mutare while Artwell Mhuka (47) was driving the Scania haulage truck towards Harare. The driver of the Toyota Delta encroached into the truck’s lane resulting in the head-on collision,” he said.
“Due to the impact, the small vehicle swerved to the right, caught fire and was burnt beyond recognition. The haulage truck, which was pulling two trailers, overturned and landed on its side barricading the road.”
Insp Kakohwa said the driver of the small car was taken to Mutare provincial hospital where he was treated and discharged.
The truck driver however, was trapped in the truck and died before he could be rescued.
His body was also ferried to Mutare Provincial Hospital for post mortem.
The Weekender arrived at the scene at around 2am to find a long queue of haulage trucks and busses that could not pass through as the road was blocked.
Most of the vehicles were blocked for more than eight hours until the fire brigade managed to clear a small section of the road, which only allowed small vehicles to pass through leaving the buses and haulage trucks still trapped.
Matanuska human resources director, Mr Johannes Makurumidze said it was unfortunate that the accident had resulted in the loss of life.
“We sadly lost one of our most valued drivers in the accident and police are currently carrying out investigations to determine what could have transpired.
‘‘We can always replace the vehicle and the product lost but we cannot replace the life that was lost,” he said.
Mr Makurumidze said the value of bananas lost was $24 000 while the newly bought truck was worth $110 000.