Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Keynote Address by H.H. The Vice President of the Republic of Botswana, Lt. General Mompati S. Merafhe, MP, at the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund

source: Republic of Botswana (16/12/08): TAUTONA TIMES no 41 of 2008
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


[Salutation}...Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning to you all.

1. Ke a lo dumedisa! This important occasion is yet another milestone in a series of activities to mark the MVA Fund's Twenty First Anniversary celebrations. Your marathon of activities in many areas of this country during the last few months which is being concluded here in Mahalapye this morning is consistent with your initiative of "Taking the Fund to the Community". I am therefore elated to be with you today.

2. Ladies and Gentlemen, the MVA Fund's twenty first anniversary celebrations are not only aimed at increasing public awareness about the services offered by the Fund, but are also intended to promote road safety. In this context, we truly appreciate your presence here today, and hope that you will in turn assist the Fund to reach out to those who could not make it to this gathering by passing on the message you will receive today.

3. Bagaetsho, in August last year, Parliament passed the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund Act of 2007, which came into effect this year, on 1st August 2008. This New Act amended some of the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund Act of 1998, which the public felt were too restrictive and made it impossible for the Fund to assist the majority of those affected by road accidents. The most significant of these concerns was the fact that nearly 75% of those affected by road accidents could not qualify for assistance as the Fund relied heavily on negligence as the basis for the determination of liability. Consequently, the Fund was inundated with requests from the public to consider reviewing the MVA Fund Act of 1998. Consultations with key stakeholders culminated in Parliament passing the new MVA Fund Act of 2007.

4. Bagaetsho, the MVA Fund is being financed through fuel levy, which currently stands at 9.5 thebe per litre of fuel. This levy has not been reviewed for more than 7 years despite inflationary pressures and the introduction of the new compensation system. Let me however warn that should road accidents continue to increase, the Government may have to review the fuel levy to ensure that the Fund sustains itself.

5. Ladies and Gentlemen, when all is said and done, road safety is key to the sustenance of the Fund and overall development of our economy. It is a matter of serious disquiet that road accidents are the second highest cause of death after HIV/AIDS in our country. Despite the continuing efforts of Government and other key stakeholders to address the challenges posed by the carnage on our roads, the mortality rate and attendant injuries to road users remain high.

6. Director of Ceremonies, official statistics on road accidents indicate that for the past five years, i.e. from 2003 to 2007, we lost a total of 2 465(two thousand five hundred and sixty five) people. This translates to approximately 500 (five hundred) people killed per annum. In 2007 alone a total of 497 fatalities were recorded, an increase of 68 from 2006. By the end of October 2008, a total of 351 had died from 289 fatal accidents. By all accounts these are huge figures for Botswana's population of less than 2 million.

7. I am embarrassed and sad to say that No. 2 Police District, in which Mahalapye falls, has been leading in the number of road fatalities in the country since 2004. The boundaries of this Police District include Dibete in the south, Topisi in the north, Tswapong area in the east and all areas to the west of Serowe village. The bulk of these fatalities occurred along the A1 highway which passes through this very same village. This therefore poses a big challenge to us all residents of this Police District to ensure that this sorry situation is reversed once and for all.

8. It should be clear to all that entire road accidents are a serious draw back to national development efforts. They cause untold misery as well as social and economic despondency in many families and communities. The country continues to lose productive people in their prime years.

9. In addition, the cost of medical care, property damage and other costs associated with road carnage are very high. These problems cannot be the concern of Government alone. They should be a serious concern to us all; families, communities, road users and indeed the Fund as they negatively impact on its financial sustainability.

10. Ladies and Gentlemen, the new MVA Fund Act mandates the Fund to participate in road safety campaigns so that along with other agencies, it can contribute meaningfully to the promotion of road safety in our country. It is therefore no accident that the sub-theme for this event is "RE MMOGO MO IPABALELONG TSELENG".

11. The theme is quite appealing and resonates well with the National Vision 2016 aspirations of "A SAFE AND SECURE NATION". I understand that the Fund intends to develop a detailed Road Safety Strategy which seeks to strengthen its collaboration with other agencies by supporting their road safety related initiatives. To this end, the MVA Fund has established an Accident and Injury Prevention Department; whose primary mandate is to educate the public on road safety and the existence of the MVA Fund.

12. We remain optimistic that the MVA Fund along with other players will change the road safety landscape in our country for the better. This however, can only be achieved if we (the public) also commit to changing our behaviour by simply obeying road traffic laws, avoiding drinking and driving, observing speed limits, ensuring that we have valid driver's licences and being courteous to other road users.

13. Before I conclude let me inform you that Government is reviewing the Road Traffic Act. Key amongst the envisaged changes are:

* Introduction of stiffer penalties on offending road users;
* Provision for installation of detecting devices on our roads to improve detection of traffic offences;
* Introduction of the demerit system; and
* Flagging of vehicles that have pending matters with the Botswana Police Service.

14. These efforts reflect our commitment and seriousness to reduce the rate of road accidents in our country.

15. In conclusion I would like to express my appreciation to the MVA Fund for this deliberate decision to reach out to the public through its 21st Anniversary Celebrations. I am convinced that from Charleshill to Palapye, Letlhakeng to Maun, and Machaneng to Kang, the visibility of MVA's foot prints is indisputable and the message is loud and clear that Road Safety is key to Prosperity for all in 2016!

16. On that note I wish the MVA Fund a Happy 21st Anniversary and declare the Motor Vehicle Accident 21st Anniversary Celebrations officially launched. Re a leboga Bagaetsho. Pula!!

No comments: