Beware ‘Operation Ngambeka’

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK – law enforcement agents will apply a zero-tolerance approach towards speeding, drunk driving, road rage and other crimes during the upcoming Easter long weekend. In addition drivers without the necessary documents will be brought to book during the ongoing road safety campaign that was launched on Monday this week. Operation Ngambeka, which loosely translates “Stay within the limit” or “Keep in check” will run through the Easter weekend and stay in force until April 18. The operation will cover Windhoek and the towns of Keetmanshoop, Otjiwaron-go, Swakopmund, Rundu, Oshivelo and Katima Mulilo. The road safety campaign, geared towards reducing the usually high number of road fatalities and other accidents particularly during Easter holidays, was jointly launched by the Minister of Safety and Security Peter Tsheehama and the Minister of Works, Transport and Communication Joel Kaapanda on Monday. On average Namibia records between 10 000 and 12 000 accidents every year, 20 percent of which turn out to be fatal. Reports say that 90 percent or more of these accidents occur as a direct result of motorists’ non-compliance to prescribed traffic regulations. In an effort to reverse this trend, therefore, various stakeholders undertook an integrated approach to ensure safety on the roads and to minimise accidents in which innocent lives are lost, particularly during Easter. The Roads Authority (RA) together with the Namibian Police, the Municipality of Windhoek, the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA), the Road Safety Council and Namibia Breweries Limited undertook a nine-day road safety campaign code-named Operation Ngambeka. Minister Kaapanda said that last year Namibians witnessed the most horrific accident ever recorded on the national roads along the Grootfontein-Rundu road that claimed the lives of 28 people. “Despite these tragic accidents and loss of valuable lives, not to mention the destruction to public and private property, recent road accident statistics and audits indicate that road related accidents continue to increase at an alarming rate,” said Kaa-panda. Although the country’s Road Traffic and Transport Regulations are being hailed as of the best and most progressive laws within Southern Africa and beyond, it is evident that these laws and regulations are being violated at will. Kaapanda was therefore of the opinion that there is strong need to harness the strength of different law enforcement agencies to ensure such regulations are adhered to at all times. His ministry has also directed the Road Safety Council to revise the draft Policy on Road Safety in order to address the current weaknesses in the traffic laws in a more holistic and integrated manner. It was also revealed that road accidents remain high despite the small vehicle population of approximately 200 000 registered in Namibia, compared to neighbouring South Africa that has 2 million registered vehicles. Echoing these sentiments Minister Tsheehama said that road accidents are the leading cause of death in the country, due to the high consumption of alcohol. “The detrimental impact of alcohol consumption and driving and speeding under the influence of alcohol top the Namibian police list in combating this menace,” said Tsheehama. Drunken driving, excessive speeding, inconsiderate driving and unroadworthy vehicles have been cited as the leading causes of death on the national roads. However, Tsheehama was optimistic that with concerted efforts and commitment through Operation Ngam-beka, the situation will be considerably improved. At every roadblock throughout the country, there will be buses fully equipped with breathalysers and speed detecting equipment that will be used during the Easter break.