New traffic management system aims to eradicate accidents

Namibia tops Africa’s traffic accident rate
Otis Daniels_Finck
Swakopmund • [email protected]

The first phase of a N$128 million traffic management system along the B2 highway in Erongo was launched at Arandis on Monday.

Hopes are that this new system will help improve Namibia’s status from being the country with the highest road accident rate in Africa. The Arandis Emergency Response and Traffic Management Centre (AERTMC) was inaugurated by minister to the presidency Christine //Hoebes on behalf of deputy prime minister Netumbi Nandi-Ndaitwa. “Over the years, Namibia’s road safety performance has been a concern for both government and the road using public, on account of the hundreds of lives that we, despite our small population, continue to lose every year.”

She added that the latest figures reveal that Namibia loses an average of 700 people a year to road accidents. “This is a death toll the country and the economy cannot afford.”
The initial phase of the system comprises five poles, each with two-way cameras, placed along 50km of road east and west of Arandis. This section was identified as one of the country’s accident hotspots.

AERTMC operations manager Bazil Calogero said that the cameras and their accompanying sensors are used to monitor vehicles – checking their speed and general driving behaviour.
“The cameras can also identify the vehicle’s number plates and match it with the owner of the vehicle. This assists with identification and law-enforcement.” Several accidents have already been captured by the cameras, and as a result could be attended to much faster by emergency and law enforcement units.

There are also electronic sign boards that inform motorists of their speed and warn them to correct their behaviour. Amongst other, these signs also make motorists aware of road conditions, weather and warns of accidents ahead. “I have worked on similar projects in South Africa, and once these systems are in place, we have noted an immediate reduction in accidents. It really does help, so we are optimistic with the outcome of this system,” Calogero said.

The cameras and boards are linked to a control centre at the Arandis turnoff. This centre is connected to various emergency and law enforcement agencies on a 24/7 basis. The current centre will be replaced by a permanent structure, which will also include a fire station and other emergency vehicles. AERTMC is the initiative of a consortium consisting of the National Road Safety Council, the Arandis Town Council and the Erongo Regional Council. The idea started many years ago in the town’s endeavour to become the region’s emergency response hub.

The system forms part of Namibia’s second Decade of Action for Road Safety Strategy for the period 2021 to 2030, which was endorsed by Cabinet in March. This strategy assigned specific responsibilities to various role players and institutions. Erongo governor Neville Andre said the launch of the centre comes at the right time, with the December holidays picking up momentum and traffic to and from the coast increasing dramatically. “Road users must act responsibly. Those who do not, must know that they will be caught. You cannot run away – we can see you. Adhere to the rules or you will end up in jail,” he warned.