Rundu — Road accidents among economically active youth place an enormous economic burden on Namibia and this burden is worsened by the prohibitive costs of imported medicines.
Another adverse effect of road accidents on the economy is the costly provision of care for accident victims. Accidents cost the Namibian taxpayer N$1.8 billion each year, according to the Governor of the Kavango Region, Maurus Nekaro
Globally the cost of accidents to the world economy is estimated at US$518 billion yearly. Nekaro made the revelation during the commemoration of Road Safety Day in Rundu yesterday.
With over 12 000 crashes in the country yearly, 2 000 of those are said to be fatal - claiming about 500 lives.
"It is my conviction that road traffic crashes are predictable and thus preventable. Many countries around the world have achieved sharp reductions in the number of crashes and casualties by putting in place effective counter-measures," said the governor.
Nekaro said more funds should be made available for crash and injury prevention purposes, adding that it will ensure high rates of return in terms of the lives that will be saved.
"Just as with diseases, prevention cannot be the sole focus, mitigation actions must be included in any strategy. It requires political commitment in the form of effective laws, strategies, policies, programmes and adequate funding," added Nekaro.
A member of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) and Acting Roads Authority (RA) CEO Conrad Lutombi, urged the public to be mindful of the real dangers posed by accidents.
"Many families have been torn apart by the resultant deaths while others have been left behind with life-changing injuries and disabilities. All these are unnecessary - for this reason road crashes must be minimised if not totally prevented," said Lutombi.
He said testimony and experiences from developed countries indicate that it can be done through concerted and sustainable pursuance of national action plans with measurable targets.
Lutombi announced that road crashes kill nearly 1.3 million people yearly and injure or disable 50 million more worldwide, adding that it is also the leading cause of death among young people in the age group 15 to 29.