By Hilary Mare
ROAD traffic accidents— the leading cause of death by injury and the tenth-leading cause of all deaths globally—now make up a surprisingly significant portion of the worldwide burden of ill-health. An estimated 1.2 million people are killed in road crashes each year, and as many as 50 million are injured, occupying 30 percent to 70 percent of orthopedic beds in developing countries hospitals and if present trends continue, road traffic injuries are predicted to be the third-leading contributor to the global burden of disease and injury by 2020.
Indeed Namibia has not been an exception, recording numerous accidents and severe loss of life over the years particularly on prime holiday of the year such as the festive season. However in essence, the underlain responsible authorities such as the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA) and the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) have managed to cut back the adversaries and subsequently spearheading campaigns that reduced the carnage on the roads by over 50 percent during the recent Easter period.
In enforcement, another key stakeholder, the Namibian police announced that traffic fines of more than N$1.9 million were issued over the Easter weekend and a total of 785 summonses were issued in comparison to the 597 of last year’s Easter weekend. According to Major-General James Tjivikua, 18 checkpoints were set up around and 23 008 vehicles were stopped. A total of 1 524 drivers were screened over the weekend and 46 drivers were arrested for drunken driving compared to only three last year.
Statistically, eleven road fatalities were recorded this Easter weekend, compared to 21 last year. 113 people were injured in crashes compared to 121 last year. A total of 64 accidents were recorded this Easter, compared to 66 last year.
“We should not stop. We should continue to create awareness. The more emphasis on road safety, the more impact it will have,” The Minister of Works and Transport, Alpheus !Naruseb said last week.
Factually, the resounding success has been long coming and key reforms and resolutions implemented by road safety advocates and stakeholders played a pivotal role.
In 2009, Namibia joined the rest of the world at the Global Ministerial Conference that was held in Moscow. The main purpose of the conference was to solicit global support for the implementation of the recommendations of the World Report on Injury Prevention published in 2004 by the World Health Organization in collaboration with the World Bank.
Subsequent to the Moscow meeting, the Ministry of Works and Transport obtained Cabinet approval for the implementation of the Decade of Action once approved by the UNGA. Cabinet further instructed the Ministry to develop comprehensive modalities through which the Decade of Action could be implemented.
It is in response to the said Cabinet directive that the Namibian Chapter of the Decade of Action 2011- 2020 was developed and launched on 11 May 2011. With the final endorsement by Cabinet (Decision number 23rd/15.12.11/020), the Namibian Chapter of the Decade of Action 2011-2020, acquired the authority of a Cabinet directive with binding powers on all affected ministries, organizations and agencies as this is the time for all of us to make our inputs.
As Deaths and injuries in road traffic accidents increased, improvements in road safety required a commitment from all stakeholders in the Transport Sector and sub-sector. In light of this dialogue was key and looking back in the most recent action by key stakeholders, the 5th Annual Road Safety Conference, held in Swakopmund from 08-09 October 2015 called on stakeholders and organizations within the Sub-sector to implement activities in the areas of Road Safety Management, Road Safety Education, Law Enforcement, Emergency Response, as well as Engineering.
One of the key aspects from this conference was that stakeholders within the Sub-sector spoke frankly about some of the serious neglect of duty in key strategic areas of our national campaigns. These key strategic areas were given high priority during the time of crafting the conference resolutions that would be implemented over the short- and long term by key stakeholders within the Sub-sector. Under each of the six thematic areas of national strategy, the Namibian Chapter of the decade of action for road safety 2011- 2020, key resolutions were mapped out with clear timelines and responsible organization or Individual.
The key resolutions listed under each thematic area, were initially to develop a national monitoring and evaluation strategy to track progress on interventions with clear timelines and responsibilities in order to instil accountability, employ assertive and targeted mass media campaign supported by enhanced law enforcement visibility to address road safety awareness and solicit participation of private sector, NGOs, NDF, CBOs FBOs in the road safety management to build synergies through PPP framework.
Further, amendment of the relevant enabling regulations to allow for the bi-annual fitness inspections of public passenger transport and introduction of periodic road worthy inspections to private vehicles was to be looked at and subject imported vehicles in transit to obtain fitness certification in lieu of special permit.
The National Road Safety Council primed to create accident investigation and reconstruction capacities and formalize mass casualty assessment program with links to a call centre, integrate/interface road safety data management systems in line with the adopted national framework and adopt an integrated/ holistic approach in the development and implementation of road safety education in the school curriculum.
Impetus was further thrust on the driving schools industry to be formalized and regulated, the need to build partnerships with research institutions and tertiary education institutions to ensure evidence based decision making, investigate and implement the use of intelligent automated technologies (e. g. distance over time) to aid 24 law enforcement surveillance, extend municipal traffic law enforcement boundaries and re-introduce the evidential Breathalyser on or before 01 December 2015
Lastly backyard conversion of vehicles seeks to be stopped or done under strict observations, forward an introduction of compulsory fitment of safety belts in all public passenger transport vehicles where passenger transport vehicles without seatbelt should not be allowed to transport passengers for reward, develop and implement a comprehensive black spot management program and also investigate policy implementation of first aid as part of driver requirement for Professional Authorization (public passenger transport).
In conclusion, some of these resolutions have already been set in motion and with very little doubt they have attributed significantly to the witnessed decline in the undesired carnage on the roads, a step forward in the quest to make Namibian road safer for all.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015