Christmas Pass: Magnificence turned death trap

Sharon Chigeza


MUTARE-One of the signature landmarks of the Eastern Highlands, is the spectacular peak and
view from the illustrious Christmas Pass which offers a panoramic view of the mountain
topography as one takes a meandering drive down into the beautiful city of Mutare.
The huge mountain, which the pass bisects, stands ghost like, a silent observer of the valley
Christmas Pass is the gateway into and out of Mutare from the west and has also become a
‘stopover’ spot for many travellers who take a minute or two to snap the picturesque moments to
conserve for memories.
For all its magnificence, Christmas Pass is slowly seemingly an engineering mistake that has
transformed travelling to Mutare a pit-trap.
Transit haulage trucks will continue to increase in Mutare because of the Beira Corridor. This is
mainly because, Forbes Border post in Mutare is the quickest gateway to the sea, given that the
port of Beira in Mozambique is just 300km away from the eastern border city.
The Beira Corridor is one of Southern Africa’s main transport routes that links Zambia,
Zimbabwe, Malawi, DRC and Mozambique to the port of Beira on the Indian Ocean, linking
both road and rail networks.
Transit trucks have therefore been on the increase using the corridor, which has not only
congested traffic on the Christmas Pass highway route, but is also endangering lives as some
haulage trucks carrying heavy loads struggle to drive on the steep slopes of Christmas Pass.
Haulage truck mechanical faults, notably brake failure and jack knifing have become a constant
phenomenon as the drivers manoeuvre their wheeled missiles down the five kilometer stretch
into the city centre.

Those who are lucky are safely stopped and saved by the steep ascend upon nearing the
roundabout at the Robert Mugabe and Aerodrome roads intersection.
Unfortunately, of late, such truck drivers have not been able to make it down the steep descend
to safety as a spate of haulage truck accidents, overturning and jackknifing, has characterised the
route over the past few months.
“This route is always busy. The frequency of these haulage trucks jack knifing and veering off
the top lane for vehicles entering Mutare and crashing into the lane of outgoing vehicles is
worrying. Our leaders are putting the lives of many motorists and passengers in grave danger if
nothing is done soon to divert the truckers from the route,” said Ignatius Chitiki, who has
pleaded with the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, to expedite the process
of a by-pass.
Chitiki’s concern is just one of many as residents, motorists, local tourism-owned businesses and
legislator Misheck Mugadza have rallied up petitions and written letters demanding that the
Ministry takes urgent action with regards to the road and border infrastructure.
“The Christmas Pass accidents are a cause of concern for the people of Manicaland. We have
witnessed haulage trucks being involved in accidents leading to loss of lives and property over
the years. As a result, I saw it fit to engage the relevant authorities especially the Minister of
Transport and Infrastructural Development, to appraise him on the fact that the road has become
a death trap,” said Mutasa South legislator, Misheck Mugadza.
Brian Nyakutombwa, of Montclaire Hotel and Casino, who is part of the tourism sector, said that
tourism businesses rely on roads as people travel on these dangerous roads hence there was need
to ensure a reliable and safe road networks to realise returns from the industry
“We rely on a good network of roads for our business to remain a choice destination. This road
network should also ensure the safety of our tourists so as to attract large volumes to destination
in which Mutare and its environs is richly blessed with
Last week Sunday, a haulage truck failed to negotiate a curve and veered off the top lane of the
Christmas Pass, killing the truck driver in the process.

Barely a week passes without an accident occurring at Christmas Pass, with some of them being
In addition to the loss of lives, goods worth thousands of dollars are also destroyed in the
The calls of concern by motorists come hot on the heels of the approved plans by the
Government to expand and upgrade the Forbes Border Post and possible by pass route for heavy
trucks while the ministry carries out major expansion of the Flyover bridge along the Mutare-
Chimanimani highway.
Motorists have called on the authorities to urgently work on a by-pass route for haulage trucks
plying the Harare-Mutare road to ameliorate the plight of motorists using the road.

Comments are closed.