Experts are concerned that if the current scourge of road accidents continue non-stop, the country risks running its pockets dry as millions of dollars are being used up each year to cater for accident victims.
Speaking at a Road Safety Education Training which brought together teachers from various schools in the country yesterday, Road Traffic Management Services (RTMS) (Pvty) Ltd.’s Emil IKeib highlighted that Namibia, per year, is using up, on average, 1.2 billion towards victims of accidents.
Reports are that low to middle-income earning countries, of which Namibia is the latter, are losing 3% of their Gross Domestic Product as the toll of accidents continue to haunt roads year-in-year-out.
Although media reports are that two people are dying every day on Namibia’s roods, IKeib put the figure up to seven while non-fatal injuries are an additional burden.
Said the RTMS’ front-man, “The cost of these accidents to the economy is too bad, if we could do something about fatalities we could redirect funds towards building more schools and training teachers.”
While attitude change on the part of Namibian drivers is fast becoming hard to effect, the sobering reality is that last year alone, of the total number of people who perished, 11% were children under the age of 15.
This is one of the fundamental reasons why RTMS had a training with teachers to find ways by which children could be caught at their earliest and educated on how to be emotionally mature and able drivers before they land behind the wheel.
“Most are stealing cars and asking their friends to drive,” IKeib weighed in, adding that of 471 pedestrian crushes went down the statistical records of last year and teachers agreed that some of these were the children in their schools.
A Road Safety Education Teacher’s Guide has been issued out to school teachers as the nation has already embraced education as part of its drive towards lesser accidents and fatalities.
This drive is party of a comprehensive Namibia Chapter for the Decades of Action which aims to end the accident scourge by 2020 and with just two years to go, Namibia is still not doing well.
Khomas Education inspector, Ya Otto remarked, “We have accidents because our roads are too good.”
He challenged life-skills teachers, upon whom, as he said, most tasks are dumped, to pull up their socks and help forge a new generation of sober, responsible drivers out of the current crop of school-going children.
As things stand, fears are that the completion of the Windhoek-Okahandja highway may bring trouble given how drivers are speeding.
Some teachers have said there are no Zebra-crossings in the roads that pass their schools while others decried the behavior of some school-bus drivers who speed with students on board.
The multi-stakeholder approach by the RTMS has been called upon to further broaden and include the religious and traditional leadership who have a spiritual answer to the scourge.