Walvis Bay — Road safety and emergency response at the coast reached yet another milestone last week after the construction of the first phase of the long overdue Arandis Emergency Response and Traffic Management Centre kicked off on Friday.
The first phase is set to cost N$27 million.
The stretch from Arandis to Usakos or Arandis to Swakopmund has been a thorn in the flesh for years, and many people have succumbed to injuries sustained in road accidents while being transported for medical treatment.
Hence, the Arandis Town Council and its stakeholders embarked on the in 2016 to develop and manage an emergency response and traffic management centre in Arandis.
Speaking at the official launch of the N$127 million project that is to be constructed in phases, deputy minister of works and transport Veikko Nekundi said Namibia's road safety performance has over the years remained a concern for both government and road users as hundreds of people lose their lives every year due to road accidents in the country.
"Contemporary records show that on average we lose about 600 lives per year. This translates into about 27 lives per 100 000 inhabitants. Being a small country in terms of demographics, this is a figure that our economy cannot afford in perpetuity," he said.
Thus, he said, the centre would ensure peace of mind to all motorists using the road, as it will be monitored 24/7 in order to try and prevent accidents from occurring, render improved emergency response and ensure road user compliance through use of new state-of-the-art technology.
"You will agree with me that this is indelible milestone in the country's road safety history. Looking back, the Arandis Town Council in 2016 formally invited the National Road Safety Council of Namibia to consider partnering with them in the development and management of its envisaged emergency centre. Hence, I am delighted to state that this initiative has finally become a reality," he said.
Also speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony was the mayor of Arandis, Risto Kapenda, who said the facility will start with a mini traffic management centre which will then be upgraded through phases into a fully-fledged centre as was initially conceptualised.
Kapenda appealed to the private sector to come on-board and assist the town with the project as the centre's ultimate objective is to ensure the safety of road users and the residents of Arandis.
The mayor also explained that the centre came in to existence because of the town's strategic location and goal of becoming the emergency response hub of the Erongo region. "The council took note of the alarming accident rate on the national roads, particularly on the B2 national highway, covering the stretch between Usakos and Swakopmund. There are cases of motor vehicle accident victims succumbing to injuries whilst being transported to either Swakopmund or Usakos while immediate medical services could have been rendered at Arandis," Kapenda said.