07 Nov 2013 15:20pm
WINDHOEK, 07 NOV (NAMPA) - The Motor-Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA) says the existing high traffic fines are necessary in order to deter would-be traffic offenders from doing just that.
The Fund's management team said this in a statement issued on Thursday in response to the leadership of the Namibia Taxi and Transport Union (NTTU)'s petition to the National Assembly (NA) on issues relating to Namibia's road infrastructure, as well as the organisation's calls for the reduction of traffic fines.
The union submitted a petition to the NA on 25 July 2013, which petition was referred to the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on 03 October this year for further action.
The MVA is of the opinion that the fines are necessary, as road safety education for adults in the country is toothless.
The Fund says it has been involved in extensive road safety campaigns in all corners of the country over the past 10 years, but cannot claim any success with those interventions up to now.
The MVA's acting Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Tjiuoro was quoted in the statement as saying from this exposure, the Fund has built a reliable database, from which it draws information to inform its decisions.
A succinct synopsis from this database reflects that most crashes are caused, amongst others, by speeding, fatigue, roll-overs, dangerous overtaking and pedestrians, he stressed.
In order to effectively address the increasing incidences of road crashes and their resultant injuries and results, Namibians involved in road safety campaigns, including the MVA, thus need to address the bad behaviour of road users in order for road safety interventions to yield the desired results.
The Fund decided to deploy road safety education as the most effective intervention to cater for the needs of road users in the childrens category. To that extent, the Fund has rolled-out the Kids Power Project, which rallied primary school learners in activities which encourage responsible road-user behaviour, he stated.
The Fund further developed various programmes for secondary school learners, and one such programme is the School Learners Licence Programme, where selected learners received learners licence lessons with the specific aim of enhancing their road safety knowledge and good road-user behaviour, thus inculcating responsible driving whilst the learners are young.
At the same time, the MVA came to the realisation that adult road users are well-informed about good road-user behaviour, but deliberately choose not to comply with the law.
In light of this, the only effective intervention the Fund discovered to work in respect of this category is law-enforcement.
A pilot project was commissioned during the 2010 festive season, where Namibian Police Force traffic law-enforcement officers patrolled the B1 road between Okahandja and Tsumeb, as well as between Okahandja and Swakopmund in order to reinforce adherence to the 120-kilometre per hour speed limit, the acting CEO added.
This intervention brought about a reduction in road fatalities to 71 for that year, from an average rate of 85 for the years 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Another example of drivers deliberately choosing not to comply with the law is that of speeding motorists who reduce their speed upon receiving warnings from other drivers, who flash their headlights to warn them if traffic law- enforcement officers are spotted alongside the road with speed-measuring equipment.
It is common course that effective punishment is the only deterrent factor, not the mere fact of being caught. Therefore, it is the MVA Funds position that traffic fines be structured as such that they serve as a sufficient deterrent to would-be offenders. If the traffic fines are reduced, it may not serve that purpose, Tjiuoro reiterated.
The MVA further said it views the issue of inadequate taxi ranks and pick-up zones for taxis, as mentioned by the NTTU, as a contributing factor to the disorderliness which prevails in the streets of Windhoek.
The chaos brought about by lack of taxi ranks and loading or dropping zones for public transportation vehicles, similar to those that are widespread in developed countries, induces bad road-user behaviour.
If one road user (pedestrian for example) observes another road user (a taxi driver for example) transgressing the law without being caught, the likelihood of the former to follow suit is high.
If Namibia, as a country, is desirous to address good road-user behaviour, it must work hard to provide conducive infrastructure which would support good road-user behaviour, Tjiuoro stated.
Meanwhile, the leadership of both the NTTU and Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (NABTA) still maintain that the existing traffic fines are too high, and are only aimed at putting taxi drivers out of business as they now only work for the payment of the high traffic fines.
For these reasons, the leadership of the NTTU decided to petition the National Assembly by asking the lawmaking body to review the traffic fines.