WINDHOEK - The University of Namibia (Unam) emerged victorious against the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) in the Motor Vehicle Fund (MVA) debate on road carnage that was held at the PoN last week.
The debate was part of the launch of the Road Safety Societies at both institutions, which is an initiative by MVA Fund to curtail road carnage among young people. Statistics show that over 60 percent of lives lost in road accidents are young people between the age of 16 and 35.
Statistics also show that a total of 1913 road crashes occurred on Namibian roads from January to August 2012, an indication that road crashes are becoming a serious health issue.
“Through the road safety societies and with active participation from students, the fund will be able to spread the road safety message and instill responsible road behaviours in the students, as road users and future drivers,” the MVA fund said in a statement.
Students from Unam and the Polytechnic battled it out on a motion: “Stiffer sentences could help curb reckless driving,” with UNAM playing the role of government and the Polytechnic the opposition.
In his opening statement, Gordon Joseph of Unam defined reckless driving as driving under the influence of alcohol, therefore, as government, they propose that the drivers licenses of people guilty of drinking and driving should be suspended. They also propose that repeat offenders should lose their licenses permanently and or serve jail time.
“Paying fines does not work, it benefits the rich and disadvantage the poor. Jail time can instill fear into people who aren’t criminals, but reckless drivers,” Gordon argued.
However, in opening, the Polytechnic as opposition did not take on Unam directly by pointing out that their proposed policy would not work, or how drinking and driving is not the only cause of road crashes. Rather, the Polytechnic argued that there is a need to create greater awareness about road accidents rather then to impose stiffer penalties, including detention.
They also argued that taking away licenses as proposed by Unam as the government would increase unemployment and poverty. “Punishment is not the solution, prevention is,” they argued.
UNAM also argued that awareness campaigns do not work, and that the government and the MVA Fund continue to pour money into awareness campaigns, but road carnage continues unabated.
The adjudicators gave a unanimous victory to Unam, citing the Polytechnic’s failure to oppose the policy from the outset, and for failure to point out that drinking and driving is not the only leading cause of road crashes.