Moses Akaigwe 08072100049
With the highest rate of road traffic fatalities compared to any other region in the world – despite only having only 2 per cent of the world’s vehicles – Africa’s road safety crisis was in the spotlight on the first day of the International Transport Forum (ITF) Summit recently.
“Africa has 2 per cent of the world’s cars, but 20 per cent of the road deaths. The continent must be empowered to tackle this problem now,” Young Tae Kim, ITF Secretary-General told journalists.
In an attempt to help curb this crisis, the World Bank, Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and ITF signed a memorandum of understanding in Leipzig, Germany to establish the first regional Road Safety Observatory in Africa.
This observatory will be hosted in Morocco.
“Supporting governments in the region to collect, analyse and use quality crash data is a powerful way to direct some scarce resources to their most effective use and save more lives,” Kim added.
The memorandum of understanding follows a resolution signed in February by Benin, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal South Africa and Tanzania, confirming their interest for the project. These seven African countries are currently working on finalising the observatory’s governance structure and funding mechanism.
“By understanding the root causes of traffic injuries and fatalities, policy makers can better evaluate the preventive measures available and make investment in road safety more effective,” FIA president Jean Todt said.
The ITF summit is the world’s largest gathering of transport ministers and policy makers, and this year focuses specifically on transport safety and security.
More than 40 ministers have confirmed their participation in this year’s event, and up to 1 400 delegates from roughly 85 countries are expected to attend. South African minister of transport, Blade Nzimande, is also attending.
The summit kicked off with a keynote address by HRH Prince Michael of Kent, who proposed a three-point plan to drastically reduce the number of road deaths and serious injuries.
“First, we need to establish a new UN road safety target to halve road deaths and serious injuries by 2030…Second, we need to mobilise new resources to finance road injury prevention programmes…Third we need much stronger political commitment to road safety.”
While aviation experienced its safest year in history in 2017, the same cannot be said for travelling on the road. About 3 500 people are killed on the world’s roads every day – making this our most dangerous mode of transport. And if the current trend continues, 21.7 million people will have died in road crashes between now and 2030.
“To accept such an appalling human tragedy really cannot be an option,” Prince Michael said.
Other transport safety and security issues that were debated by over 100 speakers in more than 40 different sessions and events, include the safety of self-driving cars and drones, cyber-security and blockchain applications in transport.
In closed meetings, ministers also discussed issues such as transport and climate, the dependency of transport on digital devices, and how to make supply chains more resilient.
Annual road fatality statistics for 2017, released by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) revealed the grim situation on SA’s roads.
According to the statistics, 14 050 people died in road crashes on South African roads in 2017. This is marginally lower than the 14 071 people who died in road crashes in 2016 but still higher than any year from 2008 to 2015.
The RTMC said: “A total number of one-hundred and forty-five (145) major crashes were reported and investigated during this period under review. Approximately 838 were killed and 805 people sustained injuries as a result of major crashes.”From: Wheels24