MVA FUND ENGAGES FARMERS ON STRAY ANIMALS
Various road safety partners including MVA Fund, National Road Safety Council (NRSC), SAIF, Private Road Safety Forum (PRSF) and Ministry of Works and Transport held discussions pertaining to road safety impediments along the Trans-Kalahari Corridor, A1 and A2 routes.
A prominent aspect that came to the fore was the presence of stray domestic animals on road reserves, prompting the MVA Fund to engage the Witvlei community in July this year on ways to control stray animals to reduce their involvement in road crashes. Following suit, the Maltahőhe Farmer’s Association in Hardap and the Omutsegwonime community in Oshikoto region were engaged by the Fund recently.
The communities expressed various challenges with regard to controlling their livestock. These include a lack of impounding kraals in the corridors to keep stray animals, lack of financial resources to rehabilitate border fences that collapse due to wear and tear and lack of knowledge on how to administer Section 348 of the Road Traffic and Transport Regulations of 2001. The Regulation states that “a person may not leave or allow any bovine animal, horse, ass, mule, sheep, goat, pig or ostrich to be on any section of a public road where that section is fenced or in any other manner closed along both sides”.
The Regulations further state that a person may not leave the animal in a place from where it may stray onto that section
of a public road unless such animal is being ridden, used to draw a vehicle along a public road and is being driven from one place to another in such a manner as not to constitute a source of danger or injury to any person or vehicle using the road. In instances where animals referred above are driven along a public road during the period of sunset to sunrise, the owner or herder needs to a carry a red light for visibility. During any other period of the day, the person driving animals must display a red cloth in a conspicuous manner.
In lieu of the above, animal related collisions can oftentimes be fatal, especially if the collision occurred between a motor vehicle and large livestock such as cattle causing vehicle occupants to be severely injured or losing their lives. This scenario has, according to the MVA Fund Call Centre, resulted in the loss of 13 lives and 265 people sustaining varying degrees of injury in 140 crashes involving animals in 2016. Otjozondjupa region recorded the highest number of animal-related crashes (42), followed by Oshikoto (17) and Hardap (13) in the same year.
The MVA Fund urges farmers to keep domestic animals off public roads, take control of their farming activities by instituting an absolute search when livestock go missing and herd their livestock during the day and keep them in the kraal at night. Commercial farmers are advised to carry out periodical inspections of fencing to ensure that animals do not stray from the grazing fields.
The Fund further calls upon all drivers to exercise extra vigilance especially during the dry season when animals are more likely to be close to the roads looking for greener pastures and when driving in areas with high volumes of wildlife. Motorists should further be attentive to road warning signs and adjust accordingly. Additionally, speed reduction especially at night and when driving in an unfamiliar environment will critically help reduce motor vehicle crashes especially with stray animals.