Trying to Reduce the Carnage

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK There is an escalation in the carnage being wrought by the present spate of horrific road accidents in which some of the vehicles burst into flames. In one of the most recent accidents, seventeen lives were lost in two separate road accidents that occurred within a short space of time. It also turns out that public transport, especially over the festive season, has become a nightmare for many people so much so that even ” a bus fare turns into a ticket of death” . It is against this background the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA) together with other partners from both the public and private sectors piloted the Xupifa Eemwenyo 2006 Road Safety Campaign for this year’s upcoming festive season. ‘Xupifo Eemwenyo’ in Oshiwambo literally means ‘save lives’ and goes hand in hand with the objective of the campaign to reduce the high road carnage on the country’s roads during the festive season. Last year, the project was piloted by the MVA with the aim to reduce road traffic accidents in five regions in the north, namely, Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana, Oshikoto and Otjozondjupa. Both the Xupifo Eemwenyo and Nghambeka road safety campaigns were a success and managed to bring down the number of fatalities. Plans are now under way to roll out the same campaigns throughout the country. Thus with the concept “Safer Roads by 2030” , the MVA yesterday held a breakfast meeting in the capital with stakeholders to pledge support for the road safety campaign. Initially close to N$2-million is needed to make this campaign a success during the coming festive period. This will go a long way in curbing excessive speeding, drinking and driving as well as overloading. The three are reported to be the main causes of gruesome road accidents on the country’s national roads. Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Safety and Security, Peter Tsheehama, Deputy Minister Gabes Shihepo said the time has come to urgently address the horrific accidents on the country’s roads. “The time has come for us as role players to take drastic measures to safeguard the lives of our road users against those cancerous drivers who deliberately ignore rules and regulations governing our roads,” said Shihepo, alluding to the frequent accidents as being a cancer on the roads today. It appears the trend these days is that road users, especially drivers, are ignorant of the traffic rules which in turn leads to accidents through head-on collisions. The main culprits in most cases turn out to be taxi-drivers. “If you see taxi-drivers today, they don’t look at other cars they just look at customers and this is now the trend we have. “Some drivers even go as far to insult traffic officers,” said Shihepo. The Namibia Bus and Taxi association (NABTA) was also encouraged to come up with vigorous awareness campaign programmes. “They should remember that the lives they are carrying are more valuable than the money they get at the end of the day.” In view of this, the deputy minister noted that drivers must be continuously encouraged to change their mindset in order to save their own lives and those of other road users. The various stakeholders were urged to continuously join concerted efforts in the road safety campaign in order to “rescue the situation” and “remedy the already unacceptable situation in our roads”. Meanwhile, the MVA Fund has drastically improved on its accident claims from public members who need their assistance. Previously the fund would take two to four years to settle a claim. Now it has only a 300 claims backlog compared to 2 000 claims during the same period two years ago. Funeral claims are now dealt with in seven days. This will soon be reduced to just 48 hours. Sponsors or participants in the ‘Xupifo Eemwenyo Road Safety Campaign 2006’ were awarded certificates by the Deputy Minister of Safety and Security and MVA Chief Executive Officer, Jerry Muadinohamba.