A sombre atmosphere this afternoon gripped Kavalamanja area of Luangwa district as the funeral and burial procession of the seven people who died in a road accident on Sunday progressed.
Wailing and mourning were the order of the atmosphere at a church service at Kavalamanja Basic School where government officials, officials and leaders of political parties and other mourners gathered for body viewing.
Government was represented at the church and burial services by Lusaka Province Minister, Freedom Sikazwe, while opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) was represented by its president Hakainde Hichilema and the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) vice president for administration, Brian Chituwo represented the former ruling party.
Mr Sikazwe said at the burial site that government was concerned with the increased number of people dying as a result of road traffic accidents in the country.
He said government was, therefore, working on various roads countrywide to mitigate road accidents.
He said in Luangwa, government was upgrading the 90 km stretch of the road from Luangwa bridge to the Boma from gravel to bituminous standard.
Mr Sikazwe also said the June 2, 2013 accident in Kavalamanja might have been avoided if the driver of the truck that was involved in the mishap was sober.
The minister has since asked the people of Luangwa to institute citizen’s arrest on drivers that will be driving vehicles under the influence of alcohol.
And Mr Sikazwe clarified that government insisted that all the victims who died in the accident should undergo post-mortem because it was a legal requirement which will allow bereaved families to claim compensation from the owner of the vehicle.
He said children of the deceased people should be registered with the Department of Social Welfare for sponsorship in schools.
And UPND leader, Hakainde Hichilema, called for unity and peace among all political parties and people of Kavalamanja during the mourning period.
Meanwhile, chief Mphuka of Luangwa district emotionally asked Mr Hichilema and UPND candidate in the forthcoming Feira Parliamentary by-election, Euralia Zulu on what type of assistance the party would render to children of the deceased people.
The traditional leader said his subjects would not have died if a drunken driver was not allowed to drive the vehicle.
He said he was told by the injured people and others in his area that the driver of the truck was drunk.
Only five of the seven accident victims were buried at Kavalamanja burial site today while two others were buried at Mandombe and Kasosa areas within Luangwa district.
A total of nine people died in Kavalamanja on Sunday evening after a Toyota Dyna light truck, which had 29 people on board, went off the road and plunged into a stream and hit onto Kalulu bridge embankment along the Kavalamanja/Luangwa road.
The truck was moving from Kavalamanja where the party’s candidate, Euralia Zulu held a meeting ahead of the June 20, 2013 Feira Constituency Parliamentary by-election.
The Feira Parliamentary seat fell vacant after the then MMD area Member of Parliament, Patrick Ngoma resigned from his party to join the ruling Patriotic Front (PF).
Other parties participating in the by-election are United National Independence Party (UNIP), which is fielding Charles Kanyama and National Restoration Party (NAREP) whose candidate is Samuel Sikaonga.
The MMD is fielding Elias Phiri while Mr Ngoma is re-contesting the seat under the PF ticket.