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Drunk drivers face holiday in jail

16 December 2016
Author   Donna Collins
national 9 DecemberrWalvis Bay Chief Traffic Officer, Eben Platt, says he has asked court prosecutors in the coastal town to oppose bail for drunken driving offenders over the festive season.
“If caught driving under the influence of alcohol, these people could well spend their Christmas and New Year locked up behind bars,” Platt said during an interview with the Windhoek Observer this week.
He said the Municipal Traffic Division and the Namibian police will exercise strict control over road use during the festive season, with zero tolerance on drinking and driving, as well as reckless road behaviour.
“We have some tough and challenging weeks ahead, with the holidaymakers that are descending upon us, and we will not play with anyone who thinks that they can come to the coast and speed, drive under the influence, ignore the rules and behave like hooligans.”
Platt said that quad bikes must be licensed and roadworthy, and that riders should wear helmets at all times.
Quad bikes are only allowed in the central dune belt between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, as demarcated by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, which may be accessed from the demarcated corridors opposite Langstrand, Dolphin Beach and at Dune 7.
Any quad biker or 4x4 vehicle driver caught disobeying the rules will be charged and heavily fined.
“No vehicles other than emergency services are allowed to drive in fenced-off areas, which includes the beach between the Swakop River and Sandwich Harbour (including Pelican Point), or on any unproclaimed roads or tracks on the eastern edge of the dune belt, gravel plains or anywhere in the Swakop River,” Platt added.
“Roadblocks will be set up to ensure that road users adhere to traffic safety regulations, and road users are reminded to wear seatbelts at all times, to adhere to the speed limits, to carry their driver’s licence and enjoy a safe festive season.”
A permit and identifying sticker are required for off-road or dune excursions by quad bike or four-wheel drive vehicles. These are available free of charge at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism offices in Swakopmund (telephone: 404 576) and Walvis Bay (telephone: 205 971/2) and Dare Devil Adventures at Langstrand.
Meanwhile, reward has been offered to anyone who can furnish information leading to the positive identification of the culprit, who for the second weekend in a row, vandalised poles and safety fencing that separates the main highway from the Langstrand residential area.
“Holiday hooligans are at it early this year,” said a member of the Langstrand Neighbourhood Watch, who has pledged a reward of N$2,000.
The neighbourhood watch is gearing up to assist law enforcement agencies over the festive season, as they beef up visibility at roadblocks and in residential areas.
The vandalised poles and fence, running parallel to the main road, were recently erected by the Roads Authority, upon request by the Walvis Bay Traffic Department. They stretch from the Dolphin Beach area, past Langstrand, towards Swakopmund.
The fence was installed to promote road safety and prevent motorists and quad bikes from unlawfully criss-crossing the road into the desert.
Vandals have deliberately uprooted the poles and flattened the fence, while leaving tyre tracks leading to a short cut into the dunes.
Police on duty at the newly-built Yianni Savva Police Station in Langstrand were called in to investigate, and a team is currently busy repairing the damaged fence.
“There is no limit to what people will get up to, after they have had a few drinks, and want to take their 4x4s for a spin in the desert,” said Langstrand Neighbourhood Watch member Ziggy Hentze.
“Every holiday season, we have our hands full with trying to discipline the free-for-all quad bikes riders, who rev their engines from early in the morning, drive at high speed through the streets, and are mostly youngsters with no helmets, who are let loose on public roads with no parental control. These are not toys, they are vehicles,” Hentze said.