Though Namibia aspires to become a regional transport hub for the SADC region by 2017, this ambitious plan has its own potentially negative effects, such as increased road accidents, particularly due to an increased volume of traffic on the roads.
This sentiment was expressed by Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu during a road safety outreach event held at Kongola. The outreach event took place on Friday at Kongola, some 110 km west of Katima Mulilo.
According to Sampofu, the Zambezi Region has had its own fair share of road calamities, hence the need to intensify efforts aimed at reducing road accidents. The event, aimed at educating and creating awareness on road safety issues, was organised by the Zambezi Regional Road Safety Forum (ZRRSF).
“Over the past six months, the Zambezi Region lost many lives due to road accidents that could have been avoided, of which four lives lost and 23 injuries were from this area and constituency, hence the hosting of the event here,” he noted.
Sampofu said road accidents in the Zambezi are mainly caused by human error and, therefore, road users need to be empowered with the necessary road safety information. He further pointed out certain hotspot areas that he said need urgent attention.
“Road safety is compromised by a number of things in Zambezi, among them driving without a licence, intoxicated pedestrians, not wearing reflective clothes at night, speeding and drunk driving,” Sampofu said.
“We have hotspots in the Zambezi Region, such as Masokotwane, Sinai here at Kongola, Kasheshe and even Kapani. People get drunk and then walk in the road. Why are we so reckless?,” he asked.
He also noted that domesticated animals have compounded the problem, as animals are left to roam the road at night: “Another common phenomenon that threatens safety on the road in the region has to do with domesticated animals straying on the road. I appeal to farmers to ensure that their animals are kept in their kraals or enclosures, especially at night.”
Speaking on behalf of Zambezi chief regional officer Reginah Ndopu-Lubinda, who doubles as chairperson of the ZRRSF, Robert Mapenzi, a director in the Zambezi Regional Council, said inasmuch as the Kongola settlement is poised to become a village council, collective effort is needed from all stakeholders to minimise accidents, which are expected to increase as a result of the envisaged development.
“The regional council is working hard to develop Kongola into a local authority area. It will become the third town (after Bukalo). We are going to experience a series of road accidents as we develop the Kongola area. Therefore, it’s important that all stakeholders work together to minimise this. The statistics show that over 600 Namibians lose their lives in road accidents annually. This figure is extremely high for a small population that only exceeds two million,” Mapenzi stated.
Deputy chairperson of ZRRSF Lynnette Malipa invited schools in Kongola and areas along the Trans-Caprivi highway to request road safety training, noting that such initiatives have the potential to save lives.
“It is important that we all are aware of road safety issues. Schools can request training on road safety through the Zambezi Regional Road Safety Forum. We will also offer you the needed equipment,” Malipa promised.