Make roads safe Africa 2009
8 Jul 2009
Dar es Salaam: "It is the living who close the eyes of the dead, but it is the dead who must open the eyes of the living."
This was echoed by Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele, earlier today, Wednesday, 8 July 2009, during his address at the "Make Roads Safe Africa 2009" conference currently taking place in Dar es Salaam in the Republic of Tanzania.
Hundreds of delegates from different parts of the world attended the conference, which was hosted by the Make Roads Safe Campaign, the World Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, under the theme, "Call for a Decade of Action for Road Safety in Africa."
This conference takes place ahead of the first Global United Nations Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, scheduled to take place in Moscow from 19 to 20 November this year.
Other speakers included the Vice-President of Tanzania, Ministers of Transport from Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent (Patron of the Commission for Global Road Safety), Michelle Yeoh (Global Ambassador, Make Roads
Safe Campaign), David Kajange (Head of Transport Division, African Union Mission ) and Sergey Osipov (First Secretary to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Tanzania).
"We are told that over 3 400 men, women and children are killed every single day on the world's roads while walking, cycling or driving. This amounts to a total of 1,3 million people per year killed on roads around the globe. These are mainly young and healthy individuals, in the prime of their lives, and in many cases they are breadwinners.
"South Africa is often described as a mixture between first and second economies, one developed and the other under-developed. One of the consequences of this uneven development is that roads are also unevenly developed. On one hand, there are well-designed and developed high-volume motorways, which run between major cities and tourist attractions. On the other hand, there are un-paved and rural roads in need of attention.
"A consequence of our economic activity is the increase in the number of motor vehicles on the road. There are approximately six million licensed drivers and 7,5 million registered vehicles in South Africa. Motorised vehicles make up 89,3% of the total vehicle population in South Africa. The number of registered vehicles increases by six percent annually. The average age of motor vehicles is 10 years, minibuses 13 years and buses and trucks are generally between 11 to 12 years.
"The growth of the South African economy follows apartheid spatial development patterns. Before 2009, almost all new developments and factories were in areas far away from where the poor reside. As a result, informal settlements developed around cities and new developments without proper infrastructure such as roads. The unintended consequence of this is an increase in the number of road deaths as a result of people crossing busy highways to get to or from economic opportunities.
"The South African Government regards road crashes and road deaths as a serious challenge. The primary contributory factors in fatal crashes, or serious injuries, include excessive speed, drinking and driving and the non-wearing of seatbelts. Pedestrians account for almost 50% of road crash fatalities in South Africa.
"In South Africa, road safety is being spearheaded by the Department of Transport, through the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), as more than 14 000 people are killed in road crashes, with more than R14 billion total cost to the economy annually. Through the Road Safety Strategy approved by Cabinet, the Arrive Alive Road Safety Campaign is being implemented through intensified road safety education and traffic law enforcement. We are gradually seeing the benefits of visible policing and heightened law enforcement.
"The RTMC oversees the training of traffic law enforcement personnel, road traffic information, crash investigation and recording, communication and education and infrastructure safety audits. The role of the RTMC is also to guide and sustain the expansion of private sector investment in road traffic management. The South African Government has recently become a contracting party to the United Nation's 1998 Global Agreement on Harmonised Vehicle Technical Rules.
"Currently in Africa, the number of road deaths is greater than deaths from malaria. Africa's road deaths, currently over 200 000 a year, are predicted to rise significantly by 2020. By 2020, the annual global road death toll is forecast to increase by over 45%. By 2015, road crashes are predicted to be the leading cause of premature death and disability for children aged five and above.
These statistics, inevitably, pose a question among us as to what should be done. A report, after these findings, proposes a "Decade of Action for Road Safety" to be launched by the UN in 2010. The goal will be to reduce the forecast level of road deaths in 2020 by 50 percent. The Commission's ten point plan details how, with political commitment and funding, international donor support for capacity building and sustained national prioritisation of road injury prevention, we could collectively prevent five million deaths, and 50 million serious injuries, over the next decade. This will help meet the target, agreed by African Health and Transport Ministers, to cut road fatalities by 50% by 2015.
"It is our mandate, as Governments and the people of Africa, to intensify our efforts in upgrading driver training and licensing systems. We must strengthen the inspection of vehicles and encourage stronger police enforcement on our road networks. We must improve road safety education and increase awareness campaigns in the media.
Our road safety strategies must support growth and development as road deaths are an unwanted consequence of our growth and development. As a remedy to deal with this challenge, a global action plan is critical. Good practices from one country can be adopted, or adapted, for another country. Road safety requires commitment in the form of effective implementation and political will. Road safety must be at the core of our transport plans.
"It is the living who closes the eyes of the dead, but it is the dead who must open the eyes of the living," said Minister Ndebele.
Cell: 083 644 4050
Issued by: Department of Transport
8 July 2009
Issued by: Department of Transport
8 Jul 2009
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