High road accidents put financial pressure on MVA
By Lahja Nashuuta
Windhoek – The road Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA) of Namibia said the high level of road crashes on the national roads is hurting it badly, as it forks out millions annually in pay-outs to the road victims.
Namibia continues to cling to its dull record as the country with the most road accidents and road fatalities in the world. This is despite the country having highly rated roads in Africa and world over.
In 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) ranked Namibia as the country with the most road deaths per annum, worse than Swaziland, Malawi, Iraq, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic, Sudan and Mozambique.
Between January 1 to May 7 the MVA Fund has recorded 1 323 road accidents, with 2 104 injuries and 254 fatalities.
The fund’s crash statistic report shows that the youthful age group between 16 to 45 accounts for 64 percent of the total people injured in road accidents and 54 percent of road deaths in the first five months of 2017.
Crashes have, however, decreased by 10 percent and injuries by 4 percent while fatalities have increased by 5 percent.
“Such an increase is partially influenced by mass casualties due to the ratio of crashes to injuries and fatalities. Distressingly, the current trend is that in one vehicle crash, more than two lives are lost,” Kapena Tjombonde, MVA’s chief corporate affairs officer said in emailed response to The Southern Times.
Findings of a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), part of the US Department of Transport, confirmed that human error accounts for 93 percent of crashes on the Namibian roads, either as a driver, passenger or pedestrian.
“Unsafe behaviour by road users include speeding, distractive driving such as using mobile phones, inattentiveness and non-adherence to general road rules. Every road user is expected to use the road safely and comply with traffic rules and regulations to minimise the risks,” said the MVA official.
And injuries sustained in these accidents are costing the MVA millions.
In accordance with the MVA Fund Act No.10 of 2007, the fund is mandated to to design, develop, promote and implement road crash and injury prevention measures as well as to assist all people injured and dependents of those killed in road crashes by providing benefits. The MVA gets its funding from fuel tax.
Benefits include a funeral grant, loss of support, loss of income, injury grant and medical benefit.
Tjombonde noted that the high financial responsibility placed on the MVA Fund by road carnage, is inevitable. He said during the 2016/17 financial year, the fund expended R168 million in respect of medical expenses averaging R14 million per month and representing 27 percent of total revenue.
For every road crash where a life is lost, the fund disburses a funeral grant of R7, 000 per deceased and R100, 000 per household per year for loss of support for their dependents.
“The fund also provides an injury grant of up to R100, 000 where a person was injured in a crash. Such injured persons are additionally legible for loss of income up to R100, 000 per person per year if they were employed and lost income due to the crash,” Tjombonde said.
Over the years, MVA, in corroboration with various stakeholders, including the Namibian Police, the Road Safety Council and agencies such as the City of Windhoek’s Police Department, are failing to stop the road massacre despite continued efforts to stop it.
Since 2011, Namibia has been experiencing a spike in road accidents. Tjombonde acknowledged that: “Since the launch of the Namibian DoA in 2011, fatalities have steadily increased from 492 to 561 in 2012, 561 to 633 in 2013, 633 to 676 in 2014, 676 to 702 in 2015 and 702 to 731 in 2016.
“It is almost six years into the Namibian Chapter on DoA and the proportion of fatalities still indicates a negative trend towards the stabilisation of fatalities which will ultimately contribute to the 50 percent reduction of fatalities by 2020”.
Increasing number of fatalities is one of the challenges experienced in relation to the expected achievement of the Namibian Chapter of The Decade of Action 2011-2020, according the accident fund.
Tjombonde further noted that even though collaboration between the partners has solidified over the years, the availability of resources to maintain visibility remains a concern.
“Namibia has limited specialised resources in particular rehabilitation facilities with the Spinalis Rehabilitation Centre situated at Windhoek Central Hospital being the only specialised spinal cord rehabilitation centre.
“Another challenge is the road users’ self-regulation aspect that is currently missing among all road users including drivers, pedestrians, cyclist and passengers. This is important for all to ensure their own safety,” she said.