By Frederick Philander
“Namibian roads hurt and take the lives of many road users, causing tremendous human suffering, not to mention the economical burden imposed on government.”
These were the words of Sidney Boois, accident and injury prevention manager at the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, on Tuesday evening when he officially opened a solo visual arts exhibition at the Namibia National Art Gallery.
Well-known artist, Fillipus Sheehama, is currently exhibiting his creative works under the theme: “The Voices of Survivors”. A large number of art-lovers attended the opening.
“Over the past three years, we have witnessed an ever-increasing road carnage in our country, the worst recorded since independence. What are we, as Namibians, doing to stop this new epidemic?”
In the words of Fillipus Sheehama, and I quote: “I decided to look at important things which are given little attention, things that have been ignored – things which, however, have had a major impact in threatening our society”.
According to Boois, it is indeed true that as a nation it is time all Namibians paid attention to road safety.
“We have ignored road safety for far too long. Now we cannot anymore. This exhibition here tonight is one such cry – that we have lost enough brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers, and from this point forward the trend must change,” Boois urged.
In December 2006 alone, Namibia lost over 90 lives in motor vehicle accidents. In response to that, the Head of State, His Excellency President Hifikepunye Pohamba called upon the Minister of Works, Transport and Communication and the Minister of Safety and Security to come up with solutions to curb the high accident and fatality rates in the country.
“To that effect, a pilot project was rolled out under the already-established Xupifa Eemwenyo which means ‘Save Lives’ – a flagship project of the MVA Fund through which the Fund forges partnerships with private and public sector institutions with the aim of reducing road accidents and their resultant fatalities, added to the critical component of extensive public education,” he said.
The result of this pilot project was a reduction in the number of fatalities during the Easter and Cassinga holidays. This could be registered as a remarkable achievement, but the challenge henceforth is to save lives every day.
“Road traffic injuries can be prevented by acting on the main causes of road accidents such as speeding, drinking and driving. Road safety happens through deliberate efforts of individuals and many sectors of society – that means you and I” said Boois, who expressed the hope that Sheehama’s exhibition would help educate and modify road-user behaviour, and must be seen as a tool kit in our traffic situation.
“The Voices of Survivors” exhibition depicts the real situation – we all are survivors of road traffic accidents as every road-user who engages in a traffic situation is already at risk of being involved in a road accident. I therefore wish to commend the artist for this powerful initiative, an initiative with substance,” he said.
In his opinion, the artist has shown Namibians that each of them can contribute to the road safety fight by using creativity.
“The destination is nowhere near; the journey continues; but people like artists rejuvenate our will to do more. As the MVA Fund, we are proud to be associated with this initiative. Road safety is not a one-man business, as road safety problems affect the entire Namibian society. This artistic event should therefore attract participation and increase efforts across public and private sectors,” the MVA manager asserted.