Nation misled

Two 'reputable' government entities are painting very different pictures of the extent of the mayhem and death on the country's roads, while effectively misleading the nation.

13 February 2018 | Accidents

Hair-raising disparities have emerged in the road crash statistics collected by the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund and the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) between 2012 and 2016, which includes over 78 000 more crashes being recorded by the council, while the fund claimed there had been 1 928 more deaths and 21 704 more injuries than the NRSC figures showed.

This comes as tensions simmer between the two state entities, which have overlapping mandates and responsibilities to combat the growing scourge of death and anarchy on the country's roads.

Last year, MVA Fund CEO Rosalia Martins-Hausiku strongly hinted at the combative relationship her organisation was having with the NRSC, while specifically addressing the country's editors about road safety, and how she believed the MVA Fund should be at the forefront of raising awareness.

The stark differences in the data collected by these two supposedly reputable parastatals, has emerged in comparative analyses by consultancy firm Burmeister & Partners.

Using statistics obtained from the two institutions between 2012 and 2016, the consultancy unearthed that on annual basis the NRSC records high numbers of road crashes, with a lower number of deaths and injuries, compared to the MVA Fund, which records high numbers of deaths and injuries, with a lower number of crashes.

The comparative analysis showed that between 2012 and 2016, the NRSC recorded 98 422 road crashes, while the MVA Fund recorded only 20 318 such incidents during the same period.

The MVA Fund, however, recorded 3 388 deaths and 34 451 injuries during the period, while the NRSC recorded a total of 1 460 deaths and 12 747 injuries.

While presenting a road safety audit of the Trans-Kunene and Windhoek-Luanda corridors in Ondangwa last week, Adriaan van der Merwe of the Burmeister & Partners said the MVA Fund and the NRSC need to do something to ensure accurate road accidents statistics, otherwise they will mislead the nation.

He said they had obtained statistics from the two institutions, which have no correlation.

“The MVA Fund and the NRSC must combine forces to ensure accuracy. The data they presented to us has high variances and one could doubt if there is any accuracy,” Van der Merwe said.

When contacted for comment, the NRSC said it uses a non-reactive data collection method to obtain information.

It said data is captured from police records, by electronic means, and is then fed into a computer system.

“The Namibian police record all the road crashes, regardless of whether there was a fatality, injury or none recorded, into their Namibia Road Accident Forms (NRAF). Police stations all over the country forwarded their accident forms to the NRSC for analysis. The NRSC uses SPSS and Excel software to capture the data from the police records for analysis. The only crashes that we do not record are those that were not reported to the police,” NSRC said.

MVA Fund acting chief of corporate affairs, Sidney Boois, told Namibian Sun that their main source of data is the MVA Fund Call Centre, where crashes are reported by using the toll-free accident response number 081 9682.

Boois said the information collected and recorded by the call centre is verified with n the police and emergency medical rescue service providers, such as paramedics and public and private hospital health officials throughout the country.

“Managing road safety data is a major challenge, not only in Namibia, and it requires policy direction for the modernisation of road safety data management, to enable effective and efficient monitoring and evaluation of road crashes, as this would accelerate evidence-based policy formulation for the implementation of effective accident and injury prevention strategies,” Boois said.

He added that the MVA Fund only records statistics from crashes that resulted in injuries and/or fatalities.

In essence, all crashes that resulted only in property damage are duly excluded from the data captured on the fund's crash and claim management system.

In terms of fatalities, the NRSC said that the working definition of a person killed in a road crash across the world varies from one who died within 24 hours of the crash, up to one who dies within 30 days, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard.

“Nampol records a person died in road crash as the one who die within 24 hours of the accident. Therefore, our definition of a fatality relies on that primary data from Nampol. However, to compensate for under-reporting, corrective factors are applied to arrive at a 30-day equivalent. That is, fatalities have been adjusted to the 30-day definition, by applying a standardised 1.3 fatality adjustment factor to the recorded number of fatalities,” the NRSC explained.

Boois says the fund adopted the WHO's method of recording road deaths in 2009, while itself to the global body's standards. He said this alignment allows for comparability with other countries.

ILENI NANDJATO

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