There are many elements to consider when trying to understand the reasons behind our phenomenal road fatality rate, considering the amount of campaigns directed at solving, alleviating or creating awareness regarding this issue have fallen on deaf ears, and what the proverbial road forward should be.
Namibia is rated as one of the countries with the highest road accident fatality rate, in the world. Considering our population numbers, this is not something to boast about. There is also a general nonchalant attitude from the Namibian public when faced with these facts, and one would almost think that the reactions given could be mistaken for a sense of pride in regards to “at least we are the best at something” when it comes to our road fatality rate.
Every week we read the headlines about people dying on our roads, almost ironically, it’s become normal for us to hear about a car being ripped in two, with a speedometer showing 210km/h at the point of impact. Articles reading "an estimated 700 die annually on our roads” has little to no effect, we almost find it entertaining as we see the numbers rise.
Those numbers represent mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters whose lives were ended, hopefully in an instant, as paralysis or severe disfigurement awaits most survivors of a serious car accident. Many initiatives have been attempted, many warnings of heightened police activity given, to little or no effect, as it seems that Namibia is still in a vicious downward spiral when the safety of our roads are concerned.
So what did we do? Two people sat in a room discussing "how do we make a difference?" and 3 months later we had Hollard, MVA Fund, NAMPOL, City Police, PSRSF (Private Sector Road Safety Forum), SAIF, PRIMEDIA, MTC and M&Z Motors saying, we are ready to give what we can to make a change, and we are not just talking, we are sending our big guns to attend meetings and involve the public, Namibian businesses and whoever wants, and can help make a change, because for this initiative to be successful, we need every single Namibian to stand together. This is not about making money, this is about our families, our children, our parents, our brothers and our loved ones.
They are on these roads everyday whether they are driving in their own cars, in public transport or walking next to the road. We never ever want to wake up again and hear of a single mother dying in a car crash with her son left behind alone. We don’t want to hear of a child walking in the cold to school, killed by a drunk driver. We are going to focus on what we can do to make this right. Namibians, the time has come to take a STAND.
As of the 01 August 2017, STAND will aim to screen 2500 people at 25 random screening checkpoints daily for drunken driving, with zero tolerance if caught. With a dedicated team of officers STAND will set out with the intent of screening 450,000 people over a 6 month period. Screening locations and times will be completely random, and will include the greater Windhoek area as well as the B1 (Karasburg to Oshikango) and B2 (Okahandja to Walvis Bay) highways. The general consensus regarding this campaign is a zero tolerance approach to DUI, with no exception to the law. As an example, drivers caught on a Friday will simply be refused bail until the Monday morning.
We invite Namibians to STAND up and join the fight to make our roads safer by becoming part of this campaign. We are not asking for millions of dollars, but millions of people wanting to make a change. Dig into your pockets and give what you can to STAND together against negligent driving.
Current contributions that have already been received are as follows:
Deputy Commissioner JS Shikongo from NAMPOL mentioned during the lead up to this campaign that it falls on all of us to implement change, through a more impactful approach to the overall handling of drunk driving, and negligent driving. A zero tolerance frame of mind will be the order of the day, with no exception to be made to rank, status, occupation or social standing, you will be pulled over and you will be screened, like anyone else.
Chief Inspector Amalia Gawanas who spoke on behalf of the Office of the Inspector General of Police, mentioned during her speech that the days of drunken driving is at an end, with far more stricter enforcement, as well as an overall more aggressive approach in the way they handle DUI. Gone are the days of Traffic Officers standing at the same predictable locations.
Senior Sup Adam Eiseb from the City Police congratulated and supports the initiative 100%. He emphasized that City Police will do whatever they can to ensure the success of this campaign. He also mentioned that a campaign of this sort will entrust City Police with valuable data in connection to current statistics on the prevalence of alcohol consumption by drivers our roads.
Statistics to date from the MVA Fund recorded 420 fatalities, and 4001 injuries that resulted from 2280 injury related crashes. The fund further stated that at least 85% and above of the road traffic problem is accounted for by drivers. It is worldwide known that the main underlying factors being aggressive driving and impaired driving.
We’re taking a STAND, so think twice before you drink and drive, as the chances of you finding yourself being pulled over has just become a very real possibility. If you find that spending a weekend with your family more satisfying that spending it locked up with the prospect of a DUI record against your name, think before you drink!
There is still an amount of at least $350 000 of supplies needed by NAMPOL to be more effective, and any corporates able to assist are invited to please get in touch.