Namibia aims to strengthen tourist safety campaign

Niël Terblanché

The devastating bus accident on the C214 Road between Walvis Bay and the Kuiseb River Canyon last Wednesday that resulted in the deaths of two Portuguese tourists and left several others injured has cast a new light on the need for a comprehensive campaign to ensure the safety of tourists.

Pohamba Shifeta, the Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism, expressed his deep regret over the incident.

“This accident is both regrettable and unfortunate, and we are deeply saddened by the loss of life,” he said in a statement.

He stated that the Namibian government is committed to ensuring the safety of all tourists and added that a national tourist safety awareness campaign aimed at preventing such incidents has been launched.

The Minister also mentioned that investigations are ongoing to determine the precise cause of the brake failure and subsequent crash.

“While accidents can occur, our priority remains the safety and well-being of all visitors to Namibia,” he added.

In response to this tragic event, the minister called on tour operators and drivers to exercise heightened caution, particularly given the challenging terrains they navigate.

Shifeta extended the Namibian government’s condolences to the families of the deceased and he wished a speedy recovery to all those injured.

He said the accident serves as a serious reminder of the importance of vehicle maintenance and safety standards, especially in tourist-heavy areas known for their rugged landscapes.

According to Shifeta, the safety of visitors from around the world remains a top priority for all role players in the tourism industry.

The crash last week involved three buses and a self-drive tourist vehicle and preliminary investigation found that the brakes of one of the tour buses failed while descending a steep incline.

At the time of the fatal accident, the Namibian Police in the Erongo Region reported that the bus driver lost control, colliding first with a parked bakkie and a smaller tourist bus, before striking another bus traveling in the opposite direction.

The bus that had the mechanical malfunction was carrying 22 passengers, then overturned, leading to tragic fatalities and numerous injuries.

Twenty of the passengers sustained moderate to serious injuries while two women, aged 69 and 72, died on the scene.

All injured were rushed to various medical facilities in Walvis Bay, with the ill-fated bus’s driver, a 47-year-old Namibian man, also hospitalised at the Welwitschia Hospital in Walvis Bay.

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