By Petronella Sibeene Kalkrand The Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA) has strongly appealed to both the private and public sectors to urgently embark on a national dialogue that will set up a national strategy to minimize road accidents. Despite the country’s road infrastructure being one of the best in Africa, hundreds of Namibians lose their lives every year to motor accidents. “I call on a national dialogue on road safety between councillors, governors, church leaders as well as the private and public sector. The Fund is prepared to sponsor such a dialogue,” said MVA Chief Executive Officer Jeremiah Muadinohamba. The appeal comes after 12 people recently lost their lives in a horrific crash that took place about 30 kilometres outside Kalkrand en route to Mariental. In May last year, another accident claimed 28 lives on the road between Grootfontein and Rundu making it the worst ever accident. The Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Joel Kaapanda, last Thursday told a memorial service that though the government’s intention in building roads is to foster and expedite cultural integration, economic and social development, these good intentions have been transformed into traumatic experiences by turning the country’s roads into death traps. “This tragic crash does not only bring tears and sadness, but it reminds us of all those who have died as a result of vehicle crashes and raises fundamental question as to how long will this scourge be allowed to continue,” he said. Kaapanda called on the Namibia Road Safety Council (NRSC) to carry out a forensic investigation that will determine the factors that contributed to the Kalkrand-Mariental accident. Though not pre-empting what could be the outcome of this investigation, the minister stated Namibian drivers are well-known for disrespecting laws and regulations that are visible in road-rage, speeding and disregard of the rights of fellow road users. Kaapanda says there is a great need for Namibians to build a culture of care, compassion, and, most importantly, the acceptance of road ethics. “We have fought many battles including battles for political independence; I am therefore convinced that the battle for acceptance of road ethics can be surmounted with ease if we all join hands as one nation,” he said. Sharing a similar sentiment with Muadinohamba, Kaapanda said; “It is only through the involvement of everyone that we will be able to stop the carnage on our roads.” The minister further called on all traffic law enforcement agencies to increase their activities in curbing lawlessness on the roads. He further proposed that speedsters and over-loaders should be dealt with severely. The governor of the Hardap Region, Katrina Hanse, joined the minister in appealing to the judiciary to treat perpetrators with tough punishments. She added traffic officers must be visible even on long distance routes, as this would also minimize disrespect of road regulations. Road users are reminded to exercise restraint at all times by observing prescribed speed limits, wearing seat belts, staying sober behind the wheel and never to overtake when and where it is not safe to do so.
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