ZIMBABWE’S parks and wildlife authority on Wednesday ordered a cessation of all bungee jumping on the Victoria Falls Bridge, days after a cord snapped and a tourist was plunged into the Zambezi, according to the New Zimbabwe publication.
This is in sharp contrast with the Zambian government reaction to the same event. The Zambian government’s official reaction was for the tourism minister Given Lubinda to seek publicity and bungee jump as well. Lubinda also offered to jump again with the Australian girl who could have died at the Victoria Falls.
But Zimbabwe’s Department of Parks and Wildlife Management said the temporary suspension of bungee jumping, which has been a major tourist attraction for 17 years, was to allow for an investigation into the accident on New Year’s Eve.
All bungee jumping on the bridge is held under the auspices of the Victoria Falls Bungi Company, which confirmed on Wednesday that it was complying with the directive.
Rope Workz, a South African firm, has been engaged to carry out a safety audit of the equipment used for bungee jumping on the bridge.
Parks spokeswoman Caroline Washaya Moyo said: “They are here to investigate the cause of the breakage of the cord and to approve or make recommendations on the new system which has been put in place following the accident.”
Tour operators in Victoria Falls and Livingstone in Zambia have rallied to defend the safety of bungee jumps on the bridge, pointing out that the December 31 accident was the first in 17 years during which over 150,000 jumps have been conducted.
Shearwater Adventures, one of Zimbabwe’s biggest tour companies based in Victoria Falls, sent out a circular to its booking agents and customers on Wednesday apologising for cancelling jumps.
Erin Langworth, a 22-year-old Australian backpacker, miraculously survived after she was dumped 111 meters into the Zambezi River down below when the cord snapped.
Langworth, who had booked the jump through a Zambian company, managed to swim to safety before being rescued by Zimbabwean police.