Road Safety Council budget slashed in half as road fatalities skyrocket

The curse of the Namibian road accidents ordeal has gone uglier and the the National Road Safety Council has come out to say its budget was drastically slashed in half which has almost crippled its activities in reducing accidents.

Once boasting of a budget of N$18 million, that was cut to N$9 million in 2017 and now precariously stands at a measly N$8 million while a N$100 million is needed to effectively manage the “notorious” B1 road.

This is an 80% reduction in the budget while the council also used to get fuel levy (0.013 cents) but is now getting 0.026cents. 

The council has also indicated that effective road safety education campaigns alone would ideally need an effective investment of about N$180 million.

Indications are such that 800 people die on Namibian roads each year which loosely translates to nearly two deaths every day. 

This is a huge contrast from the figures of 2002/3 where the number of deaths per year was around 200 to 292. 

So dire has the council’s financial positon become that chief liaison officer Ambrosius Tierspoor said they can only use money on accident scenes alone and not for avoiding them as they used to. 

Effective use and application of resources on road safety remains lacking in the council, Tierspoor said at a recent National Road Safety Council training workshop for training of trainers held at Safari Lodge here in the capital.  

On reducing accidents and fatalities, he said traffic officers are not “baby sitters” for drivers and can only be at limited spaces on roads while everything boils down to the behavior of drivers. 

“I am telling you, the final authority to stop these horrific accidents is the attitude of the drivers.  I can give you all the education but there is no way I can prevent the drivers from behaving the way they are behaving now. Even taking videos while they are driving 220Km/hour,” he said. 

He also added, “There are countries where people die by falling from beds because of hunger but in Namibia it’s a different case. That’s why I try to as much as possible, if it’s Rundu, if it’s Ondangwa I fly.”

“Only Keetmans there is an airport there but not may customers. But that road to reach Keetmans I can tell you you are safe. Please the tourism must flood to the south not because I was born there because its safer. Ok, let me stop there,” said Tierspoor to laughter.