A sombre atmosphere characterized the mood in Ndola today during the funeral service procession for the 21 people who died in a bus accident in Chibombos district of Central province last week.
Over 50 people died in when a Mercedes Benz Post Bus, which was travelling from Ndola to Lusaka, collided with a truck that was coming from the opposite direction at John Chinena area in Chibombo district on Thursday last week at between 07:00 and 07:30hours.
ZANIS reports that a mournful ambiance became worse when thousands of Ndola residents lined up in the roads waving their arms in the air and wailing while Zambia Army trucks carrying coffins of the deceased drove towards Mitengo cemetery where the 21 accident victims were put to rest.
During this procession, business in Ndola almost came to a standstill as thousands jostled to have a glimpse of glimpse of the caskets.
President Michael Sata was present both at the Levy Mwanawasa stadium where a church service was held and at Mitengo cemetery.
President Sata led the mourners in paying last respect for the 21 victims while the Zambia Police and other traffic officers struggled to control thousands of mourners who flocked to Mutengo cemetery.
The President, who was accompanied by First Lady, Christine Kaseba in laying wreaths on each of the 21 graves, described the death of the 51 people as a great loss to the nation.
Mr. Sata said government will continue to share the grief with the bereaved families adding that the nation was in shock and angered at the untimely death of valuable citizens.
He urged the families to mourn their departed brothers and sisters in a dignified manner and always look to God for comfort.
The President, who was also accompanied by his Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations George Chellah, arrived at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola and was welcomed by Copperbelt Province Minister Mwenya Musenge, Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda, his Deputy Ronald Chitotela, Works and Supply Minister Christopher Yaluma, Central Province Minister Philip Kosamu, several Permanent Secretaries, defence and security chiefs and many other officials.
And earlier at a packed church service at Levy Mwanawasa stadium, Mr. Sata directed the Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications and the Ministry of Home
Affairs to put in place measures that would help mitigate such tragedies in future.
He further directed the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) and other law enforcement agencies to work closely with motorists and other road users in ensuring that traffic rules and regulations are observed in the country.
“The Road Transport and Safety Agency and the Zambia Police Service must strictly ensure that road users respect road regulations in order to reduce on accidents,” he said.
The President has also directed that over speeding and reckless drivers should be firmly charged in accordance with the law because this was one way of mitigating accidents.
And Mr. Sata has said government will prioritise the construction of dual carriage ways to link major cities in the Link Zambia 8,000 project.
Meanwhile, Zampost Post Manager General Macpherson Chanda reaffirmed that his company will continue to provide the Zambian people with reliable and quality transport services despite the recent accident.
Mr. Chanda also said his company will continue to stand beside the bereaved families of the 51 victims in their trying moments.
And in Kitwe, a similar atmosphere of a dark cloud reigned as three victims of the same Chibombo Post Bus road accident were buried at Nkana East cemetery after a joint funeral procession.
Charles Mwila 45, a businessman, Sydney Fulai 31, also a businessman and Gilbert Tembo, a grade 11 pupil at Chimwemwe secondary school in Kitwe, have all been buried at the same cemetery.
Their burial session was attended by hundreds of people from all walks of life that included civic leaders, clergymen and senior government officials among others.
And speaking at the burial service, Kitwe District Commissioner Elias Kamanga called on the Road Traffic and Safety Agency (RTSA) officers and the Zambia Police to come up with more effective means of reducing road traffic accidents other than mounting sporadic road blocks that do little to reduce accidents.
Mr. Kamanga said the number of road traffic accidents has continued to rise and so many innocent lives are being lost.
He said government cannot allow the trend to continue especially that about 80 per cent of these traffic accidents are caused by human error.
And Mr. Kamanga urged politicians not to try to garner political mileage from the accident as it was an emotional event that cuts across all political affiliations of Zambians.
He has however thanked Kitwe residents for defying political and social affiliations by turning out in a big number to mourn the deceased with government and their families.
And representatives from the families of the three victims thanked government and Zampost Limited management for all the support rendered during the funerals.
Four Kitwe Residents were among the victims that died in the Chibombo Post Bus road traffic accident which claimed 51 lives on Thursday last week.
Meanwhile in Kabwe, burial of the late Ruth Kataba, 45, a victim of last week’s road traffic accident in Chibombo district will take place tomorrow morning.
Family spokesperson, Brian Chinyama confirmed at the funeral house in Chindwin Barracks, that burial will take place at St. Mary’s cemetery in Kabwe after a church service at Chindwin New Apostolic Church in the morning.
And father to the late Ruth, Lackson Kataba, said his daughter left behind two children, a boy and a girl, adding that she was a widow whose husband died in March last year.
Meanwhile, Kabwe District Commissioner (DC) Patrick Chishala visited the funeral house to console the bereaved family members.
Mr. Chishala said government was equally affected by the loss of so many people in one accident.