WHO praises Nam road infrastructure

Home International WHO praises Nam road infrastructure


World Health Organisation (WHO) resident representative Dr Monir Islam said Namibia has excellent rules and laws on road safety, but it is no use having good roads and regulations if these are not strictly enforced.

“We really need to enforce these rules,” the WHO resident rep stressed.

Speaking at a silent protest ceremony during the conclusion of the UN Global Road Safety Week on Friday, held under the theme ‘Save Our Lives’, Monir went further to say that Namibia’s roads are of good standard, but are not conducive for 160 km/h speed –not even for the permitted 120 km/h speed.

“When you drive the roads are good, but when you come closer to cross a bridge or a culvert, the roads turn narrow, which makes it extremely dangerous to cross together with a bigger vehicle. If the incoming truck or car is too close you might crash,” he further explained.

During the ceremony WHO handed over 5 000 pairs of shoes to the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) for distribution to vulnerable people. The shoes symbolise the country’s attempt to advocate road safety, with the overall aim of eliminating road crashes and their resultant effects.

He noted that the roadworthiness of the vehicle one drives is important and one needs to check regularly whether the tyres are in a good condition. “We need to look at our cars.” He said in many countries cars need to go for testing every year and asked why that is not the case here.

According to statistics released by the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, 6 918 people were injured on the roads in 2014; a further 7 333 persons suffered injuries in 2015. In 2014 no less than 676 lives were lost on Namibia’s roads, compared to 702 in 2015.

Dr Islam said this amounts to 30 deaths per 100 000 people, a very high figure for a country like Namibia, compared to global statistics. “We need to do something. The worrisome issue is that deaths [on the road] are increasing, fractures are increasing and injuries are increasing.”

He further said most accidents involve young people, who could have helped to improve the society and the economy, but died too soon.

In 2014, nearly 40 percent of the people killed on the road were pedestrians. “We really need to look at how we can prevent these deaths,” he said.

Islam said although many people say road accidents are not predictable, he is of the view that it is a wrong message and prefers to rather say that: “accidents are preventable. Deaths can be prevented.”

He further called upon young people to play a leading role in the prevention of road accidents. “Young people need to say it is not allowed to drive without wearing a seatbelt, or it is not allowed to drive while under the influence. You need to talk to their parents that it is not allowed to drive at high speed. Young people really need to take action.

“Start discussing at school level with your peers on what you can do. Start to create indirect pressure on politicians. The police can’t do it alone. Everywhere you go in this country the distance is 300 to 600 kilometers. You can’t have police at every 100 kilometers,” Islam said.

He further noted that as he drove around, he observed that some police officers drive without seatbelts and talk on their cellphones while driving, even when not chasing anybody.

“You are our leaders. We follow you. Teach us what we have to do. Charity begins at home. One death is too many for Namibia. It is not that one sector can prevent it, everyone needs to play a role to save lives,” he advised.