Nearly 140 workers injured in truck accident

10 Oct 2013 19:00pm
KEETMANSHOOP/WINDHOEK, 10 OCT (NAMPA) – More than 130 employees of the Namibia Grape Export company sustained moderate to serious injuries when the truck they were being transported in overturned at Aussenkehr on Thursday morning.
Aussenkehr is situated in the //Karas Region, some 24 kilometres from Noordoewer.
No deaths were reported, but the Namibian Police Force (NamPol)’s Crime Investigations Co-ordinator for the //Karas Region, Deputy Commissioner Rudolf Isaak confirmed that several employees sustained serious injuries.
Meanwhile, speaking in Windhoek on Thursday afternoon, the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA)'s Chief Executive Officer Rosalia Martins-Hausiku said their call centre received a call this morning at around 05h00 about a truck which had been transporting around 140 workers to the Aussenkehr Grape Farm, which overturned when the driver lost control of the vehicle on a curve allegedly due to speeding.
Martins-Hausiku said by Thursday afternoon no fatalities had been recorded, but preliminary records indicated that at least 139 people sustained moderate to serious injuries.
“In responding to the tragic incident, the fund also picked up on critical challenges in terms of a lack of emergency medical response capacity in that part of the country. This essentially means that all ambulances had to be dispatched from Windhoek and there were also no doctors available to treat the injured persons,” she said.
Four head injuries and two suspected spinal cord injuries were recorded.
Amongst others, two NamPol choppers, two airplanes from E-med, two doctors (a Namibian doctor who received training on trauma in Sweden, and a spinal cord specialist from Sweden), six advanced life support paramedics, one basic life support paramedic and two emergency care technicians were dispatched to the area.
Martins-Hausiku went on to say that 33 of the workers were transported to the Karasburg State hospital, two to Aussenkehr Clinic and 104 workers to the Noordoewer Clinic.
A patient bus from the Karasburg State Hospital was also dispatched to Noordoewer and was set to transfer 12 patients to Karasburg. Another 22-seater bus was dispatched from Keetmanshoop to Noordoewer to transport slightly injured workers back to Keetmanshoop State Hospital.
An ambulance was also dispatched from Keetmanshoop to Karasburg State Hospital to pick up at least six people to be transported to Windhoek.
“These are patients who suffered traumatic amputations and are being transported to Windhoek for surgery, possibly amputations,” she stated.
Martins-Hausiku said the fund has alerted all medical facilities and ambulance services in the capital to be on stand-by to receive and manage the injuries of the patients.
The MVA CEO also noted that the costs incurred in the transportation of the patients stood at N.dollars 403 100 in respect of air ambulances and the hiring of paramedics on Thursday, and it was expected to increase.
She then called upon all roads users to exercise extreme caution and guard against disregarding road traffic regulations.
“The fund has on numerous occasions called on employers to desist from transporting their workers in trucks and other vehicles not fitted with proper seating facilities and seat belts,” she stated.
This news agency on Thursday also spoke to Swapo-Party Youth League (SPYL) Secretary for the Karasburg District, Eliaser Kandume, who took issue with the accident and echoed the MVA’s sentiments on the matter.
“There is negligence from the side of this specific company and other grape companies, they do not respect the wellbeing of the employees,” he stated.
Kandume said “action will be taken” in order to avoid further injuries or loss of lives, without specifying what will be done.
“We want them (Namibia Grape) to be an example to other companies here. These companies do not want to understand that employees’ wellbeing must be respected and protected,” he indicated.
He also accused the driver of causing the accident by speeding. “I understand a lot of people are injured, the truck was overloaded and the driver was speeding,” he said.
In response, Namibia Grape Export manager Danie van der Merwe said he could not confirm or deny that the truck was overloaded and was travelling at a high speed when the accident occurred.
“If the politician was there he must tell us what happened because I arrived after the accident. I don’t care what he says, if the driver overloaded the truck and sped, then he can be blamed for that,” Van der Merwe said.