The Aussenkehr road accident that left 139 people injured last month is expected to cost the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund of Namibia close to N$1.5m.
The accident that occurred between Noordoewer-Aussenkehr roads on 10th October when the driver of a truck carrying 200 labourers lost control in a curve, due to speeding.
During the week of the accident, the Fund incurred close to N$500 000, on the dispatching of air and road ambulances, paramedics, as well as hospital and treatment costs.
However, that figure is expected to reach N$1.5m when the individual hospital costs and claim benefits for personal claims are availed once treatments have been concluded.
On the day of the accident alone, MVA Fund used N$403 100, as it dispatched a team of 16 first respondents, paramedics, among them doctors, two ER choppers and two air ambulance planes.
Of the 139 people who sustained moderate to serious injuries, three are still hospitalised, two are at the Katutura State Hospital and one is at the Paramount Step-Down Facility undergoing rehabilitation.
While the driver of the truck was neither charged nor arrested for negligence, chief executive officer, Rosalia Martins-Hausiku admits this could be the single biggest payout by MVA this year, ahead of the December holidays.
“All road users should 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 seatbelts,” she said.
The last time the Fund made huge payouts was in 2004 when a N$250m payout for the Belgian tourists involved in a car crash with boxer, Harry Simon, occurred. The money is being paid out over a period of 25 years.
This year alone, MVA Fund has recorded 3 019 crashes, with 529 fatalities while a total of 5 016 people have sustained injuries.
The fund says 50 people die each month from road accidents.
July was the busiest month in terms of crashes (343). Recorded fatalities were 37 while injuries also a saw a record high of 531 in the same month.
September had the highest number of recorded fatalities of 61. This month has had the least recorded numbers but even though it is not yet over, 118 crashes, 21 fatalities and 215 injuries have already been recorded.
With over N$340m in assets, the Fund receives N$40m from Government but spends 60% of it on medical expenses and payouts. This year, however, N$30m has been spent on treating accident victims.
Gabriel Wakalenda is a 24-year-old brewer who had been sent to Germany by the Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) to further his studies in the field.
He returned home towards the end of July this year as a qualified brewer but before he could resume his duties, Wakalenda decided to take the traditional ‘welcome’ home trip, by visiting his parents in the North and in Walvis Bay.
On 29 August 2013, Wakalenda borrowed his brother, Batista’s car and hit the road, headed for Ruacana, for a family reunion with his parents.
He had sought to drive around that time of the month, to avoid the hectic Heroes’ weekend.
About 25km from Okahandja, another vehicle that had been attempting to overtake him lost control and while both cars approached a bridge, trying to dodge it, Wakalenda lost control further and rolled over his Audi.
“I only recall not being able to move my body when I woke up. I could see the other four passengers who were in my car trying to get up but I couldn’t,” he recalls.
None of his passengers were injured but Wakalenda broke the C5 bone in his neck - part of the cervical vertebrae.
His spinal cord was not broken but was pressed in the accident.
With his brother’s car written off, the worst was yet to come.
Paramedics on the scene declared he would be paralysed for life because of the impact of the crash.
From the accident scene, he was rushed to the Katutura State Hospital in Windhoek and later transferred to Medi Clinic and then to the Paramount Hospital, a month later.
“The accident really affected the family because he had just completed his studies. He had been home for only three weeks before this happened. It’s something you do not expect,” says Batista who besides losing his car, has spent close to N$20 000 commuting between Windhoek and Walvis Bay to look after his brother who has been in hospital since that fateful Thursday.
The Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund of Namibia has stepped in and paid for all Wakalenda’s medical bills, amounting to N$600 per day at the State hospital.
The Fund has also brought in spinal cord experts of the Spinalis Foundation in Sweden, to continue rehabilitating Wakalenda through occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
The experts have recommended that a piece of bone be removed from his foot and be added to his neck. He is now able to move his neck and arms, for the first time since the crash.
“I believe this is only a season in my life and that it will pass. I will walk again, because I believe in miracles. I never knew the importance of the MVA Fund, until after the crash.”
He is also positive about returning to his job as a qualified brewer. “They have invested a lot in me and have assured me that a position is waiting for me in whatever capacity, once my rehabilitation is complete. I worked with very advanced computer systems that monitor the brewing process, so I know that as long as I have my screen and mouse, I will get back to doing what I love,” Wakalenda concludes.
He has since forgiven the driver of the vehicle who caused the accident and sped away.