By Edeltraud Mokhatu
A Workshop on road safety reform was held last week to garner, collate and discuss policy reforms and challenges of the road transportation sector.
In the face of gruesome road accidents, such as that of December 13, 2006 which killed 26 people, and another accident that claimed the lives of 13 people near Grootfontein a year later, it has become necessary to regulate the way drivers and pedestrians behave.
The Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication in collaboration with all principle stakeholders came up with their successful brainchild “Xupifa Eemenyo” for a period of one month last year, but that was only a quick-fix for the festive season.
There is an urgent need for a practical and effective device that could be active all year round.
In this respect, a workshop was held last week to discuss establishing an agency to serve as an umbrella body to dictate law enforcement and traffic management issues on behalf of the Ministry.
“The Xupifa Eemenyo Pilot Project has proven beyond any doubt that a synergistic approach works best. We should therefore explore all possible ways in this workshop and come up with an integrated Road Traffic Management system for Namibia from the lessons drawn from the Pilot Project,” said Minister of Works Joel Kaapanda.
“The workshop should investigate the introduction of stiff fines as a measure of reining in unruly motorists, and other measures like the demerit system for traffic offenders must be considered as a safety management tool,” he said.
A longer-term solution to road safety problems will go a long way in reducing the fatalities occurring daily on our roads,” he said.
The deputy Chief of the City of Windhoek Police Service, Mr Eliphas T. !Owos-Oab, said there was urgent need for the creation of a statutory Body, which will operate at arm’s length from the Ministry.
“Public opinion suggests we are doing nothing as traffic laws are broken,” he said, “but road safety starts with prosecution and the timeslot dedicated to traffic-related matters is not sufficient,” he said.
“There are many ways of influencing behaviour, but it is well recognized that the most effective approach is a co-coordinated strategy of: education, engineering, enforcement and deterrence,” said the minister.