Twenty-eight pedestrians were fatally injured on the Western Bypass road between the periods of 2014 to 2016, and this figure excludes fatalities involving drivers and passengers through rollovers and collision on this segment of the road.
Long-term solutions are being contemplated to avoid pedestrian fatalities, and short-term measures in the form of speed calming and traffic surveillance on the Western Bypass becomes necessary, the Minister of Works and Transport Alpheus !Naruseb said in Parliament this week.
“We have witnessed an upgrade in numbers of incidents on the Western Bypass which is a section of the B1 road that runs through the City of Windhoek. Pedestrian safety along this stretch of the road remains a critical concern as the area west of the road was not populated at the time of construction,” !Naruseb said.
He added that with the dramatic increase in urbanisation west of the Bypass and growing urban traffic flow the major threat to pedestrians comes from frequent conflict with vehicles travelling at speeds equivalent to rural open roads and similarly the current roadway alignment contributes significantly to occurrences of pedestrian-vehicle conflict. According to !Naruseb, the same implies to the Western Bypass which was from inception meant to serve as a bypass to prevent vehicular traffic from bottlenecking in the city centre.
Road safety continues to be a serious challenge to all Namibians and remains one of the key reasons why roads are upgraded or even constructed to ensure smooth and safe mobility. Upgrading of the Western Bypass to a fully functional freeway remains a medium to long-term priority and some of the work to that end has commenced and is in progress.
“To this effect, the National Road Safety Council with the Namibian Police, City of Windhoek, Roads Authority, Motor Vehicle Accident Fund and the Private Road Safety Forum pulled their resources together and initiated a number of initiatives aimed at bringing the current road safety quagmire on the Western Bypass under control,” !Naruseb stated. He further added that the efforts are mainly short to medium term in nature and short-term measures include amongst others pedestrian safety, speed calming and visible traffic surveillance along this high risk arterial. !Naruseb further noted that short-term engineering and law enforcement measures on the Western Bypass are being implemented.
The speed limit has been reduced from the initial 120km/h to 80 Km/ h. The funds are also being sourced from the resources of the said stakeholders to the tune of N$40 000 for the erection of traffic lights at the intersection of Mandume Ndemufayo Avenue and Western Bypass which is the intersection west of the University of Namibia (Unam). “A public notice for the closure of Hegel and Berndt Carlson streets in Academia and Pioneers park respectively was placed in the local media to run from July to 25 August for public input or objections.
“After the Analysis of the responses received it was agreed that Hegel Street be closed once the traffic lights at the intersection of Mandume Ndemufayo Avenue and Western Bypass have been installed,” !Naruseb said. He added that public awareness materials are being developed to aid in disseminating the appropriate information to the public regarding the short-term measures.