Bots has highest crash fatalities in SADC

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 04 November 2015   |   By Keitebe Kgosikebatho

Careless drivers especially under the influence of drugs and alcohol and  unlicensed  drivers are major contributors to an increase in road traffic accidents in Botswana. Speaking at the  National Road Safety Symposium in Gaborone on Thursday, the Minister of Transport and Communications Tshenolo Mabeo said it is worrying that the 2014  statistics show an increase  in accidents  as a  result of such conduct. “Confirmed fatalities  in the period January to mid October 2015 stand at over 315 by comparison to 262 for the same period last year, an approximate 20 per cent increase , and the festive  season, which is traditionally  a bad  time for accidents is approaching,” he said.
According to Mabeo Botswana has the  second highest  prevalence of road  crash fatalities  in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). He revealed that in the provision of third party  insurance  through the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund about P40 million  is spent  on medical bills annually  and a P120  million  pula  a year is set aside for future expenses incurred by  those injured as a consequences of such accidents.
He said as a member  of the United Nations congregation, Botswana signed up and is committed  to the Global Decade of Action  for Road Safety  of 2011-2020. Mabeo urged all stakeholders to come together and look into remedial measures like raising  awareness and campaigns   for road safety  during festive  seasons  or public holidays  in general. “Partnering  with government  is part  of our  National rod safety  strategy which advocates  for collaborative  efforts with various stakeholders. The decade of Action  arose as a result of the appalling  worldwide  statistics -1.3 million people  die as a result of  road traffic accidents, and this is forecast  to rise to1.9 million by 2020” said Mabeo.
Meanwhile one of Australia’s leading road safety advocates Russell White encouraged government to motivate people to do things right rather than punish them to force desired results. White whose career encompasses a broad range of  skills  and expertise  across a broad range  of road safety  matters was speaking at. He implored government and other stakeholders in road safety  to devise longer  goals strategies and be innovative.
This he says can be achieved through partnerships between government and stakeholders in the private sector. According to White although the high rate of road accidents currently grappling Botswana may seem alarming, measures of redress can still be roped in to reverse the situation. He stated that the significant change as far as road safety is concerned in Australia came about  as a result of partnerships between government and other interested parties. He however noted that not all partnerships work but parties need to be resilient nonetheless.“Road safety is a journey,  Australia was in a similar  situation in the 1970s,  but now there is significant change,” said White.
He implored stakeholders to keep on pursuing road safety issues in order to attain the envisioned goal of  having accidents free roads by  the year 2020. “No matter what the cost could be, something  has to be done, If the challenges are left to pile up now, they will translate into something bigger,” said White.
A steering  committee consisting  of all key players in Road Safety  in Botswana  was established  in August  2014 with a mandate  to develop  a National  Road Safety symposium. The committee members included  Debswana, G4 Consulting Engineers, The Ministry of Transport  and Communications, through the Department of Road Transport and Safety (DTRS), MVA Fund and WHO to mention but a few.
The purpose of the symposium  was to gain  the commitment  and engagement of the public  and private sector  in support  of road  safety in Botswana , as the government  cannot  do it alone, hence the theme “ Effective Partnerships  for Road Safety”.

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