Posted on: July 14, 2011 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 1

Civil society and faith organisations are playing larger roles in the quest to improve road safety and reduce traffic incidents, deaths, injuries and loss.

A Namibian National Road Safety conference in Swakopmund in July 2011 was hosted by a National Road Safety Council, World Health Organisation (WHO), Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA Fund) and Southern African Christian Initiative.

“Road safety is of a multidimensional nature,” said Namibian minister of Works and Transport, Erkki Nghimtina.

“Government has responsibility for road safety, but civil and faith based organisations have contact and support of communities at grass root level, to sensitise and educate people about road safety”.

Nghimtina was tasked by Namibian pres Hifikepunye Pohamba to launch participation at the planned United Nations general assembly meeting on Global Decade of Action for Road Safety in Windhoek later this year.

About a million people, more than half Namibia’s population, die each year in road accidents worldwide. Another 20 to 50 million people sustain various physical and emotional injuries.

Namibia’s Erongo region suffers the highest rate of accidents in the country. The coastal road between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund frequently claims lives.

Mining employees in Namibia often use long roads on weekends, like the Aus road, and understand the risks of long straight stretches, occasional poor visibility, travel time pressure, and fatigue.

Ministers of religion are the last line of people called upon by members of their congregations to assist with funerals and memorial services of road accident victims.

“Pastors, reverends and ministers have first hand experience of the emotional and physical scars road accidents leave as an ongoing legacy”.

Minister Nghimtina stressed that the conference should develop clear and workable strategy for NGOs and faith based organisations to join in the campaign for safer roads and safer road use.

Governor of Erongo region, Cleophas Mutjavikua, and Swakopmund councillor Nehemia Salmon, also attended the conference.

Mutjavikua acknowledges concern about road safety in Namibia and the financial crisis currently affecting the MVA Fund.

“I trust that civil society and religious groups can look at the problem from a different angle and be able to provide new and innovative solutions. Behavior on roads is at the root of road accidents”, said Mutjavikua.

He said 80% of the causes of accidents are human behavior and 20% can be ascribed to technical faults or shortcomings on roads, signage or weather conditions.

“Civil society and religious groups can penetrate to the mind and change peoples’ behavior”, he said.

Cllr Salmon said civil organisations should mobilise society in the fight against road loss.

PHOTO; African roads and road users take too many lives. Even apparently safe roads pose high risk due to weather, visibility, fatigue, unroadworthy vehicles and overloading.

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  1. Road safety needs a behavioural based safety approach. Motorists should be given positive feedback by traffic ofoficers, like recognition, a pat on the shoulder for positive behaviour, and negetive feedback with guidance. Why do we expect road users to practice road safety when traffic officers have no clue about safety culture. Municipalities, metros and provinces generate revenue from traffic fines, the focus is not on safety culture, but on tax. If we are seriuos about road safety we have to move from a revenue paradigm to a road safety paradigm.

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