By Petronella Sibeene
A hard-nosed approach, that saw stiff road safety measures being imposed by strict traffic officers in the Xupifa Eemwenyo road safety campaign over the Easter holiday, saw hundreds of motorists pay close to N$500 000 in spot fines.
During that period, 263 motorists forked out almost N$80 000 for driving without fastening seatbelts while 44 were flagged down for driving while under the influence of alcohol. Another 222 cases were recorded for over-speeding, 123 for driving without a licence while 78 cases were for ignoring traffic signs.
The close to half-a-million dollars is the total amount collected from all the motorists who appeared in court countrywide for contravening traffic rules and regulations.
At a media briefing yesterday, Minister of Transport and Communication, Joel Kaapanda, disclosed that 1 263 people were issued with traffic tickets with a total value of N$289 000 while another 680 motorists were tried at makeshift courts where N$198 500 was collected.
Of all the cases handled, 24 were postponed to other dates while three people were imprisoned after failing to pay the spot fines.
“We have shown the public that we have the ability to mobilise efforts and channel resources in one direction with a view to succeed,” said the minister.
The pilot project, that covered areas such as Hardap, Oshana, Erongo, Khomas, Otjozondjupa, Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshikoto, has been described as a great success with a 44.4 percent reduction in the number of accidents across the country.
The Easter campaign recorded 94 road accidents compared to 169 the previous year. Fatalities were reduced by 86 percent (seven cases reported) compared to the same period last when 30 fatalities were recorded.
The campaign further recorded a reduction in minor injuries by 52 percent. However, serious injuries increased by 29 percent compared to last year.
On the targeted roads, only three accidents occurred.
Kaapanda said the Government recognises the need to step up law enforcement particularly during busy days of the week and peak periods of the day during which most fatal and major accidents occur.
He reiterated that law enforcement agencies should apply zero tolerance to drivers driving under the influence of alcohol and those driving without valid drivers licences and professional driving permits.
Other offences to be tackled more vigorously include going through red traffic lights and ignoring stop signs, illegal and unsafe overtaking manoeuvres, over-speeding and reckless, negligent and inconsiderate driver behaviour.
According to Kaapanda, violation of traffic regulations will invite the full wrath of the law and thus drivers should start “behaving”.
The minister warned drivers that go on the road with attitudes: “Even if you are driving the latest model, you should remember that these are national roads, they are for everyone. If you want to be safe, adhere to the rules and regulations.”
The minister commended all the law enforcement agencies for the high success of the campaign.
Deputy Minister of Safety and Security, Gabes Shihepo, speaking at the same occasion, said that the exercise would be a tradition on every national holiday.