OTJIWARONGO - At least 21 people have died in car-related accidents since the national Do The Right Thing and Save Lives road safety campaign started in mid-November. According to statistics provided by the Namibian police, a total 212 road accidents, including 361 injuries were reported nationwide. With the festive season approaching, law enforcement officers are worried that the number could go up.
“With the congestion coming during Christmas, the new year, and the start of the school holidays, how much more do we expect?” said Deputy Commissioner Amalia Gawanas, Head of Traffic Division at Nampol.
To combat the road carnage, the National Road Safety Council and key stakeholders in the sector launched the 2019 Do The Right Thing and Save Lives campaign on 18 November, emphasising that the responsibility for safety on Namibian roads is on each individual road user.
Ambrosius Tierspoor, head of communication at the National Road Safety Council, said the campaign objectives were to reduce several dangers including risky pedestrian behaviour, speeding, and driving under the influence.
He added that the initiative also seeks to increase seat belt compliance and tire safety, enhance emergency response, and support visible traffic law enforcement.
Tierspoor said the council’s team is spreading awareness to drivers at multiple points around the country through engagement and car inspections.
“We are also creating awareness in terms of what level of tire measurement is safe. The basic legal limit is 1.6mm. However, that is the least. If you want to be a good road safety ambassador, your tires should have a depth between 3mm in the summer and 4mm in the winter,” said Tierspoor.
Other stakeholders such as Nampol are focused on law enforcement. Gawanas said that Nampol had observed several prevalent traffic violations since the start of the campaign.
“Common violations include drunken driving. That means our drivers don’t care. That’s a don’t care attitude. The second most common violation is overtaking on blind spots. We hear about two cars meeting head on daily where one driver made a decision that is irresponsible,” said Gawanas.
“How are people living in other countries surviving without accidents? Why should we have accidents each and every year?” Gawanas questioned.
The Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund statistics show the Otjozondjupa region tops the nation in road accident injuries and fatalities.
Nampol Otjozondjupa Inspector Maureen Mbeha said her region’s officers had rolled out 26 roadblocks throughout the Otjozondjupa.
She said traffic officers would be on the lookout for offenses such as illegal transportation, vehicle roadworthiness, licensing and registration, reckless overtaking, seat belts usage, speed limit adherence, stray animals alongside the road, and illegal usage of mobile devices while driving.
The Do The Right Thing and Save Lives campaign will conclude on 15 January 2020.
By Kaylan Shipanga