By: Andrew Kathindi
President Hage Geingob has called on safety and security clusters to be vigilant and ensure road safety during the festive period.
Geingob requested as he offered his condolences to the families that lost loved ones in the horrific accident that claimed 15 lives last Friday morning.
“I am saddened by the news of the accident between Otjiwarongo and Okahandja around four o’clock on Friday morning in which 15 people are reported dead. This devastating incident happened when Namibia was fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically the new variant Omicron.”
Geingob said it is saddening for the country to be confronted with the news of lives lost in preventable road accidents, particularly as it happened when people are travelling for holidays to reunite with their loved ones.
“As we mourn the loss of these precious lives and others over the long weekend, I urge for greater vigilance and call upon all drivers on our roads to observe and respect rules for road users by ensuring, among others, that they don’t drink and drive, drive within the speed limit, take due diligence when overtaking, do not overload and that vehicles are in a roadworthy condition.”
Otjozondjupa regional police spokesperson Inspector Maureen Mbeha confirmed that the Volkswagen Golf sedan hit a wild animal. “The driver then lost control and collided with an oncoming quantum bus.”
President Geingob, therefore, requested the safety and security cluster to ensure that all the necessary measures are put in place to ensure that road fatality are kept to a minimum through, among others, better controls at roadblocks as the country heads into the festive season.
Last week, Marshall ranger Sean Naude told The Villager that witnesses described the scene as tragic.
“Only three people managed to escape the quantum when it caught fire,” he said.
Another accident occurred 5km South ofOkahandja towards Windhoek at 20h50 on Thursday.
The incident involved two cars that collided and claimed the lives of three people.
Geingob is also likely to speak on Wednesday with new measures amidst skyrocketing COVID-19 cases. A travel ban between regions is expected, particularly in Khomas, which has become the epicentre of the fourth wave.
An eyewitness said it was a horrific accident, and it is uncomfortable to speak about.
“I was there, I even captured a video of it, and I saw the cars burning. Even when I left, the fire was still moving towards the dry grass as well.”
She said there were no police or emergency services when she arrived at the scene.
“When we tried to approach the scene to figure out how we could, we couldn’t do anything; the flames were intense.”
She said she could not see any clothing of some sort because the fire was intense.
The stretch between Okahandja and Otjiwarongo is one the most dangerous.
In March 2020, nine people died in two separate road accidents that occurred Thursday night and in the early hours Friday morning on the B1 road between Okahandja and Otjiwarongo.
The first accident happened 25 kilometres north of Okahandja at about 23h00 on Thursday night when a pickup vehicle, a minibus, truck and a sedan were involved. The pileup killed six people died.
The deceased were:
- A five-year-old boy.
- A nine-year-old girl.
- A 22-year-old female.
- A 26-year-old woman.
- A 67-year-old man from the pickup.
A few hours later, a second accident occurred about 35 kilometres north of Okahandja at about 01h50 on the same road. It was a head-on between a pickup and a mini-truck. Three people died on the spot.
These were a three-month-old baby boy, a 10-year-old boy and a 40-year-old male driver.
In November 2016, the same road claimed six lives. This accident occurred at about 20H30, approximately 50 kilometres north of Okahandja.
One of the six was the former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Ulitala Hiveluah and 48-year-old Ruben Pienaar, a member of NamPol who was stationed at Epako Police Station in the Omaheke Region.