OTJIWARONGO - Government officials and stakeholders from across the Otjozondjupa region gathered on Tuesday to discuss road accident reduction measures in the region in light of the festive season when road accidents and deaths are most likely to increase over the holiday season
Motor Vehicle Accident Fund of Namibia (MVA) statistics show the Otjozondjupa region tops the nation in road accident injuries and fatalities, particularly on its notorious stretch of the B1 highway between Okahandja and Otavi. MVA says the 100 road accident fatalities reported this year in Otjozondjupa has already surpassed last year’s total of 86.
Otjozondjupa Regional Governor Otto Ipinge called for Tuesday’s dialogue to garner proposals on short-term road safety interventions and to hear the challenges faced by safety officials, particularly as the festive season approaches. “This road of ours is classified as one of the most dangerous roads. We have seen we are losing the lives of people who are supposed to be contributing to the economy,” Ipinge said.
“We must send a strong message that this year we say ‘no’ to crashes in this region,” he added.
Representatives from the MVA, National Road Safety Council of Namibia (NRSC) and from the police gave presentations on Namibia’s road safety crisis and their challenges and proposed solutions. Several participants suggested accident prevention measures such as spot fines, increased roadblocks, less bureaucracy to repair emergency vehicle, enhanced driver education, the suspension of selling alcohol at service stations, and use of passenger trains and a truck port in Grootfontein to ease congestion on the B1 and B2 highways.
Nampol Otjozondjupa Commissioner Heinrich Tjiveze explained that his officers are faced with challenges including limited manpower and inadequate speed measuring equipment and breathalysers. He emphasised that every citizen is responsible for preventing road accidents.
NRSC CEO Eugene Tendekule, who attended the meeting, said a six-month 2018 campaign of increased police presence on the B1 and B2 roads led to a 23 percent reduction in road accident deaths. However, the campaign was halted due to financial constraints.
Tendekule added that N$1.34 billion is lost to road accidents in Namibia every year.
Jones Lutumbi, manager of accident and injury prevention at the MVA, said the money Namibia was spending on road accidents could be spent on other national needs such as education and healthcare.
Tuesday’s road safety meeting comes on the heels of the deadly September accident which claimed the lives of 14 people after a 16-seater quantum bus carrying 47 passengers overturned between Otjiwarongo and Kalkfeld.
*This article was submitted by Kaylan Shipanga, an Information Officer at the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology Otjozondjupa regional office.