Africa experiences the most road fatalities in the world

21 November 2013

New Era

Even though the African region remains the least motorised region in the world, the same cannot be said regarding road traffic fatalities, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to statistics from the WHO, death rates in most African countries including Namibia are above the global average of 18 deaths per 100 000 population. Africa only possesses two percent of the world's vehicles, but it has a death toll of about 16 percent according to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) African region report.

This came to light during the 2nd commemoration of the annual Africa Road Safety Day in Katima Mulilo on Sunday. In a speech by the Minister of Works and Transport Erkki Nghimtina read on his behalf by the deputy director of transport regulations, Damian Mabengano, in Namibia alone over 15 000 crashes occur each year.

"In Namibia we cause over 15 000 crashes every year of which close to 2000 are fatal claiming more than 500 lives. Since January this year ab out 540 lives have been lost already on our roads.

What worries me even more is the fact that the festive season is yet to come thus making it highly likely for these figures to go up," said Mabengano. Exacerbating matters is the cost of road crashes to both society and the economy according Mabengano.

"In addition to the acute impact on families, the cost to the country's economy is astronomical. It is estimated by the National Road Safety Council that road crashes in Namibia cost the economy about N$1.8 billion per year," said Mabengano.

He also appealed for concerted efforts to reduce the calamity of road crashes and for effective road regulations and strategies. "Improvement in road safety does not just happen, it requires concerted efforts and commitment in the form of effective laws, strategies, policies, programmes and adequate funding.

Governments have a duty to address this major public health and development issue as a matter of principle." The Zambezi Region, which always experienced the least number of road crashes in Namibia, is now contributing increasingly to the number of road crashes in the country.

This year alone the region reported a total of 221 crashes with 19 fatalities and 31 injuries according to information provided by the regional governor, Lawrence Sampofu. The most recent fatal road crash involved a group of seven school boys who perished about three weeks ago in what has been described as the single most horrific road accident in the region.

Sampofu appealed to parents to avoid giving their children vehicles, while they are not licenced to drive. "Just some weeks ago we had an accident here in our region where a group of teenagers perished. We must stop giving our vehicle key s to unlicenced and novice drivers and driving under the influence of alcohol.

These types of behavioural patterns do not only endanger us, but also the other innocent road users," said Sampofu. The chairperson of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare George Simataa called for a collective approach in mitigating road crashes saying everyone is susceptible to a road crash.

"We must remember that we are all candidates for a road crash. It may happen to you or your loved ones any time.
Statistics show that road accidents are the leading cause of death, rather than any disease. Because of the availability of treatment, HIV/AIDS is no longer a major challenge now but road accidents," said Simataa.
According to information provided by the Manager of Public Education of the MVA Fund, El ifas Rukambe, 532 people have lost their lives in Namibia so far due to road crashes with about 4990 injured.

The 16 to 35 age group is most affected. The leading cause of road accidents according to the MVA Fund is speeding, fatigue, drunken driving, vehicle fitness and pedestrian negligence (jay walking).

Scores of people attended the event where victims of road crashes narrated their ordeals and candles were lit in remembrance of those who perished as a result of road crashes. Africa Road Safety Day is commemorated on the third Sunday of November each year across the African continent.

Original article by George Sanzila

Categories: Transport

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