Relatively Successful But Tragically Very Costly

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Although the accident death toll from this festive season has reached over 70, the ongoing Xupifa Eemwenyo Road Safety Campaign under the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund is generally described as having been a success. Tragically, two major accidents on the country’s roads gripped residents when early in the month of December 17 people perished between the Grootfontein and Rundu road instantly killing nine men, five women and three children. Then there was another accident on December 31 between Windhoek and Okahandja which claimed the lives five people on the spot. Two others died in hospital the next day and a surviving victim, a child, subsequently passed away last Friday. It transpires that three of the vehicles in these major accidents which occurred during the festive season were grossly overloaded by at least more than five persons. Despite these unfortunate fatalities, the MVA’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Rosalia Martin-Hausiku, informed New Era that the campaign has nevertheless been successful in terms of meeting its objectives. Besides the overall aim of reducing fatal road accidents over the holiday season, Xupifa Eemwenyo was also geared towards intensifying medical responses in emergencies and, at the same time, creating awareness on safe driving. “It was successful because we responded promptly to accidents through our 081(MVA)9682 number. Normally, SOS and NamPol respond, and accident victims are quickly attended to or stabilized,” said Martin-Hausiku. Just yesterday morning, the MVA Fund also airlifted two children from Ongwediva to Windhoek’s Roman Catholic Hospital. They were both in a critical condition after being involved in a car accident on Sunday in the north. Generally, medical response and awareness have been very swift in attending to the patients, while several people were arrested by the Namibian Police for drunken driving and for failing to wear seatbelts. Martins-Hausiku added that there is a need to sensitize people on driving behaviour, and passengers should also speak out when drivers speed or overload. “Just at the Brakwater roadblock, people are travelling and not even wearing their seatbelts at all. It is one thing to create awareness but another to change people’s bad driving behaviour. We need to look at road safety as a disease,” she stressed. So far, the MVA Fund’s compensation has amounted to thousands of dollars for funeral costs and transportation of people who died during the festive season. It is a general rule that each and every accident victim receives N$7ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 from the Fund. For the 17 people who died between the Grootfontein and Rundu road last month, the Fund committed N$7ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 per deceased and paid a further N$25ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 for the mass grave in Katima Mulilo. Costs of airlifting the remains of 14 people, namely seven to Katima Mulilo and seven others to Victoria Falls, totalled N$80ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000. The bodies of the remaining four of the six Indian victims who died in the car accident which occurred last month between Windhoek and Okahandja were repatriated to India. The cost of transporting their remains to their final resting place was carried by the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund with support from the High Commissions of India and Botswana. The Fund confirmed at a press function yesterday that six of the deceased were Indian nationals residing in Botswana. Their bodies were airlifted, through AVBOB, to the towns of Mumbai and Kolkata in India. The bodies of the first two victims were already airlifted earlier to Mumbai while the remaining four were transported to Kolkata on Friday. In this instance, the MVA Fund paid out compensation of N$20ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 per deceased for funeral costs and transportation, the reason being that their remains had to be transported to an international destination. It was further established that because the Indian driver had caused the accident, the Fund only paid out the costs for the passengers and not for the driver in this case. The Xupifa Eemwenyo Road Safety Campaign ends on January 17.