A NATIONAL Railways of Zimbabwe employee almost plunged into the Zambezi River after he fell off the Victoria Falls Bridge.
Tafi Shava was painting the bridge’s railings when he slipped. He suffered a broken spine after landing on some steel poles on the bridge’s arc — breaking a 111 metre plunge which would have almost certainly killed him.
Shava, whose age could not be readily established but is believed to be in his 40’s, was rushed to Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo in a critical condition.
Witnesses said Shava was rescued by his colleagues on the lower ramp of the bridge.
NRZ spokesperson Fanuel Masikati said they were investigating what could have caused the accident as safety measures “have always been in place to prevent accidents.”
“I can confirm that we received a report about one of our employees who got injured while on duty at the Victoria Falls Bridge. We’re investigating the cause of the accident because we’ve never had such an incident since we started working on the bridge as there are safety harness belts and nets which should be in place whenever a team is working,” he said.
Masikati said Shava was an experienced worker who had spent more than 10 years with the NRZ.
The bridge is jointly maintained by NRZ and its railway counterparts in Zambia.
Shava was working with about six other workers when he allegedly tried to scale up the bridge, but lost his grip and slipped.
Added Masikati: “There are safety nets and harness belts and we’re actually shocked about what happened because these things are meant to prevent such incidents. None of our staff on the ground has given full details and investigations are being carried out.
“In all our workshops, safety comes first and we really have to investigate this.”
The Chronicle visited the accident scene yesterday and there were no workers on site.