Noose tightens around festive traffic offenders

23 December 2016
Author   Donna Collins and Kaula Nhongo
As the festive season spirit takes hold across the country, traffic and police officials have warned of a zero tolerance approach to road offences, especially drunk driving.
Swakopmund Traffic Chief, Melvin Cloete, told the Windhoek Observer this week that since the start of the holiday season, there have already been 15 drunken driving arrests in the town, with seven drivers being detained last weekend alone.
This figure does not include incidents where the Namibian police made the arrests. There have also been eight recent drunken driving arrests in Walvis Bay.
Namibian Police Traffic Law Enforcement Commissioner, Ralph Ludwig, said that the police have purchased new breathalysers, as part of their law enforcement efforts during the festive season.
He said motorists will be stopped at random to test for alcohol, using the newly introduced state-of-the-art breathalysers.
Although the breathalysers are a bit pricey, the police managed to acquire 30 units, which have been deployed across the country.
“We have enough breathalysers and it is only traffic law enforcement officers who are trained to use them,” he said.
Ludwig said the department is setting up mobile roadblocks at different points, to carry out their operations.
“We have instructed our traffic officers to screen about 30 to 40 people, as well as 30 vehicles (to check roadworthiness) per shift,” he said.
The operations will continue throughout the festive season, up to 17 January 2017.
Ludwig said the biggest problem they have is the attitude and mindset of drivers, who do not care about the rules of the road.
“If drivers can do things right, observe traffic lines and consider other people on the road, we will have a wonderful festive season,” he said.
There has been a long-running battle around the legality of breathalysers, which have since been resolved.
The breathalysers were reintroduced last December.
Cloete said that the holding cells in Swakopmund were already bursting with 170 awaiting trial prisoners. He said that is the last place people wanted to end up during the festive season
"It is these same drunk people that get onto the roads and cause accidents, which sometimes result in the death of innocent victims, and  there is no excuse for this type of behaviour," said Cloete.
"If you want to drink, stay at home or get a lift with a friend or taxi to and from the party; but I am warning everyone out there, don't think we won't catch you, because we will," he said.
Erongo Regional Police Commander, Andreas Nelumbu, said courts will have to decide on bail for drunken driving offences, depending on the circumstances and severity of the offence.
"We cannot carry on killing our people on the roads because of alcohol, speeding and reckless driving anymore," he warned. “The public must know that they cannot pay their way out of a situation; there will be consequences."
According to Nampol, the total summonses for traffic violations countrywide, recorded from April 2015 to March 2016, were 55,073, with a monetary value of N$65 million.
About 13,500 people were fined for speeding (N$17 million), while the fines for driving without licences were 13,000 (N$13 million).
A total of 737 people were fined for driving unroadworthy vehicles (N$1,1 million), while 5,200 people were fined for not wearing seatbelts (N$5 million).


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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