KEETMANSHOOP, 30 SEP (NAMPA)
Keetmanshoop Municipality Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Desmond Basson said the maintenance of roads south of Kalkrand is poor. He made the remark at a consultative meeting on road safety here on Wednesday.
Basson said there are many flaws on the southern B1 road, including the lack of road markings, turn-off lanes and lights at entry points in towns, posing huge risks.
The CEO said he was especially perturbed at the deaths of two Botswana nationals in a vehicle accident on the Aroab road, east of Keetmanshoop on Sunday. Basson said many of the gravel roads in the region are high risk, adding that users have a right to demand optimal roads due to the myriad of fees, penalties and taxes paid.
Deputy Minister of Veterans' Affairs, Hilma Nicanor, who spoke at the same event, said the carnage and serious injuries on roads are matters of critical concern to the country.
Nicanor said as a regular traveller, she was dismayed to note how drivers alert others to the presence of speed checkpoints on the road. "What are they thinking?" she asked.
Nicanor said that when drivers flash their lights at other drivers, those drivers slow down for that moment, but once they pass the law enforcers, they speed again.
"This is a disgraceful offence and highly irresponsible," she said. Nicanor said accidents have economic impacts, but more so social and emotional impacts, having a lasting effect on society.
Namibia is a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Resolution on a Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 - 2020 aimed at decreasing road incidences. She said it is a shared responsibility and can only be achieved with those using the roads.
The meeting is held annually to discuss road safety progress and problems and to seek input and ideas from the various sectors of society. This year, overloading was highlighted as a key cause of accidents and damage to roads.
Senior Specialist: Operations at the Roads Authority of Namibia (RA) Richard Milinga, said trucks are guiltiest in this regard, but "we can't remove them from our roads because logistics are part of economics and the trucks bring all the commodities we need?. So it falls on self-regulation and policing to ensure laws are followed in guaranteeing safety and long-lasting roads for all road users," he said.
Namibia currently has 10 weighing bridges to help control overloading on national roads. Milinga said overloading is the main culprit causing cracked and damaged roads that cost the country millions in maintenance. He said the lifespan of roads generally is 20 years, but overloading, together with environmental factors and low-quality workmanship, are the causes of potholes and the general ruin of roads.
Miliga said it seems people are not entirely taking the dangerous situation on the roads seriously, despite the fact that Namibia has one of the highest road accident rates in the world.
"Perhaps it is time to show the ugly sight and disturbing picture of accidents to show what really happens during a crash to make us realise that it is a serious matter," he said.
Roads Authority (RA) //Karas Regional Manager, Sebulon Muenjo said the country is an example in Africa with its good road infrastructure and that Government does what it can with the available funds to build new roads and bridges while upgrading existing systems.
He said the onus and responsibility are also on drivers to practice safety measures by making sure cars are roadworthy, maintaining speed limits and driving while sober.