The National Road Safety Council has committed N$3 million towards traffic law enforcement units in the country to enhance their visibility on national roads during the upcoming festive season.
The funds will be used for the procurement of state-of-the-art automated speed law enforcement equipment with a view to increasing detection and the visibility of law enforcement officers on roads known for reckless and inconsiderate driving.
National Road Safety Council (NRSC) chairperson Eliphas !Owos-ôab said the procurement of such equipment would not only discourage potential violators of traffic laws and regulations, but would also instil a sense of security in law-abiding road-users.
Delivery of the equipment, he noted, would still be subject to the signing of several Memoranda of Understanding, with action plans directing the optimal utilisation of such instrumentation and regular reporting of law enforcement outputs to the road safety council.
The beneficiaries include Nampol’s traffic unit, Windhoek Municipality’s traffic unit, as well as the Swakopmund and Otjiwarongo municipal traffic units.
The council’s executive secretary, Eugene Tendekule, told New Era that some equipment has already arrived. “We are waiting for some more deliveries. The idea is to give them to these [traffic] units during this festive season,” he said.
!Owos-ôab said the shortage of trained traffic officers is a common phenomenon experienced by all law enforcements units in Namibia. The council recently published a call for expressions of interest from retired, but able-bodied traffic officers to be deployed on a temporary basis as reserve traffic officers. The said call closed on November 13. In total 47 expressions of interests were received, of which 27 are fully compliant with the requirements set, while 20 fell short of meeting the full requirements as per the advert placed in October.
!Owos-ôab said thorough vetting processes are being undertaken to ensure that members, who were previously discharged based on disciplinary actions and final criminal conduct, are not invited to serve.
“Consultations are ongoing and we will continue to finalise engagement modalities. The council is in the process of negotiating logistical arrangements and conditions of employment with the potential law enforcement agencies with which these members will be placed,” he noted.
Once these processes are finalised, all suitable candidates will be informed as to the way forward.
Deployment, he said is planned for the first quarter of 2016. The sole purpose, he explained, is to increase law enforcement visibility on national roads and ultimately to reduce road traffic accidents.
Africa continues to have the highest road traffic death rates, with an average of fatality rate of 26.6 per 100 000 people. According to !Owos-ôab, Namibia’s fatality rate by far exceeds the continental average, as the country records 31 fatalities per 100 000 people on average.
“It is evident that road traffic fatality rates in low-and middle-income countries are more than double those in high-income countries. The economic cost of dealing with the consequences of road trauma already runs into hundreds of millions of Namibian dollars each year and the social cost is equally high.
“It is estimated that the cost of road trauma, including fatalities and serious injuries, equates to approximately 3 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) taxation revenue,” he said.
The lowest rates are recorded in the European countries (9.3 per 100 000 people), many of which have been highly successful at achieving and sustaining reductions in fatality rates, despite the rising number of motor vehicles in use.