By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK It is high time that Namibians redouble their efforts to avoid the tragic accidents that occur on the country’s national roads on a daily basis. This is the key message delivered by the Minister of Safety and Security Peter Tsheehama when he addressed bereaved families, relatives and sympathisers yesterday at the event marking the death of 28 Namibians in a horrific accident that took place along the Grootfontein-Rundu road a year ago. Hundreds of Namibians converged at the Memorial Park burial site of the 28 deceased situated in the middle of Rundu opposite the Northern Regional Electricity Distribution (NORED) office. The accident occurred when a passenger minibus collided with a truck laden with copper some 30 km from Grootfontein. In his keynote address Tsheehama noted with concern that even though this accident is a stark reminder of negligent and reckless driving, increasing numbers of Namibians still lose their lives due to avoidable accidents. According to official statistics, a total of 192 people died on the country’s national roads from January to May last year, and from May/June 2005 to April this year the number rose to 287. “In most cases, these accidents are due to avoidable human errors, for example road unworthy vehicles, overloading, speeding, inconsiderate attitude towards other road users and non-compliance with the traffic signs and rules,” said the minister. In view of this more concerted efforts need to be made to curb reckless driving on the national roads. According to records, 1 878 Namibians have lost their lives as a result of negligent driving since 2001. Although the cases are said to be decreasing annually with the lowest number of 332 recorded last year, more lives are still being lost on the roads. “Road tragedies, particularly those resulting from uncontrollable high speeds, vehicle defects, disregard for other road users have claimed many precious lives of our citizens and foreign visitors alike and continue to do so. What should we do to prevent the loss of the lives of these innocent victims to road accidents? Surely, there should be a remedy,” stressed Tsheehama. He noted that there should be possible ways of reducing such happenings on the national roads. Following the loss of 28 people on May 31, 2005, another accident occurred a week later along the Oshakati/Oshikuku road where four people died. This was followed by another fatal accident on Rehoboth road that took another five lives; the Mariental accident where four people also lost their lives; and along the Otjiwarongo/Otavi road another four lives were lost. Therefore the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund of Namibia (MVA) together with the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) as well as other stakeholders have ever since the gruesome accident last year been busy with concerted efforts to sensitise the general public on road safety. This is closely coupled with the Namibian police’s activities in maintaining law and order in the country. Towards the end of his speech, the minister observed a minute of silence in memory of all the Namibians who died in road accidents so far. Minister of Works, Transport and Communication Joel Kaapanda is quoted by Nampa as saying that safety remains a priority of his ministry, adding that his ministry has directed the Road Safety Council to revise the draft policy on road safety so as to come up with a guiding principle that could address road safety in a holistic and integrated manner in order to reduce accidents on the country’s national roads. “Kindly be assured fellow mourners, that my ministry will leave no stone unturned in our quest to bring safety to our roads network,” Kaapanda emphasized.
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