600 lives lost on national roads this year

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Otjiwarongo

The Motor Vehicle Accident Fund of Namibia (MVA) says 599 lives have been lost on Namibia’s national roads since the beginning of this year, with over 6 470 persons injured in more than 3 621 road accidents.

With the release of the latest death toll, Otjizondjupa Region held a prayer day yesterday for users of the the B1 road between Okahandja, Otjiwarongo and Otavi. The B1 road is also well-known as ‘the notorious B1’, as it has become a crash hotspot with no less than 30 crashes, 63 injuries and eight deaths recorded every month on average, according to the MVA Fund.

Otjozondjupa Regional Governor Otto Ipinge said the B1 road, which stretches throughout the region has put Otjozondjupa among the top three regions with the highest number of vehicle accidents, after Khomas and Erongo in first and second place respectively.

He said the trend has been increasing and the death toll keeps rising. “Our roads have become disastrous death beds, not because they are cursed, but because of human elements and judgement. Slowing down and keeping within the limit of the laws and regulations of the road to drive safely to your destination and arrive alive – that’s what this regional day of prayer is all about.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of our lives, without considering the implications of our fast driving,” he stressed.

MVA chief of human capital Fanuel Uugwanga praised the regional leadership for coming together to pray for the safety of each and every road-user in Namibia. He said road safety is everyone’s business and the MVA Fund would continue to invest significantly in interventions to prevent accidents and injuries, which include the development, implementation and promotion of relevant road safety programmes.

“We are gathered here to pray for our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, children, neighbours, friends and family, as they at one time or another, will drive through the B1 national road, which stretches all the way from Okahandja; a road which has been dubbed by many as ‘the killer road’, because it has claimed so many precious lives.”

Uugwanga further said it is high time that every road-user makes a personal pledge to ensure that no more lives are lost on national roads. According to him, motorists get side-tracked with distractions, large and small, especially driving while texting or talking on their mobile phones.

Ipinge feels it is high time for law enforcement officials to lock up offenders until the festive season is over. “As we approach this busy time, I call upon law enforcement officials not to have mercy. If you find someone driving beyond the limit of 120 km per hour, then you should lock them up until after Christmas and New Year. Whenever someone is found contravening the law they should be locked up,” he said.

He said most offenders are youngsters between the ages of 20 and 30. Furthermore, he said he has noticed a trend among young people below 20 years, who acquire their learner’s licence and then end up taking chances by driving trucks.

The governor proposed that a law should be implemented to only allow people to obtain a truck driver’s licence at the age of 35 and above. “Those involved in accidents with trucks on these B1 roads are below 25 years. It is high time we change the law. “Government put so much money into maintaining highways, but these trucks damage our roads. People don’t want to use the railway for cargo and businesspeople don’t want their trucks to park at 19h00. They want to transport their goods through the night and these trucks are dangerous to other road-users. They don’t think of the lives lost,” he remarked.

Road users are urged to report any accident to the MVA Fund call centre by dialling 0819682, which is the accident response number.

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