African Transport Ministers join Michelle Yeoh in supporting the Decade of Action for Road Safety
Michelle Yeoh with school children
Ministers, high level government officials and road safety activists from across Africa have pledged support for a UN Decade of Action for Road Safety on their continent and around the world.
The pan-African conference met in Dar es Salaam Tanzania, on 8 July 2009, to review the growing epidemic of road injury on the continent and to pledge support for a push to secure the proposal for a UN Decade of Action for Road Safety . The Make Roads Safe Africa conference was organised by the Make Roads Safe campaign, the World Bank Global Road Safety Facility, the AA of Tanzania and the UN Economic Commission for Africa.
Africa has the most dangerous roads in the world, measured by death rate per population, and has so far only avoided a catastrophic explosion of road deaths because of relatively low motorisation and an undeveloped road network.
The President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, gave his support to the Make Roads Safe campaign. He said: “I support the proposal for a Decade of Action for Road Safety for Africa and around the world. Millions of lives can be saved globally, but we must act urgently.” The President’s comments came at a meeting with the patron of the Commission for Global Road Safety, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, and Make Roads Safe campaign ambassador Michelle Yeoh, following the conference.
In the new Make Roads Safe report issued to delegates at the conference Archbishop Desmond Tutu warned that road injuries could become another killer epidemic on the scale of HIV/AIDS.
“This is predominately a killer of the poor. It is the poorest communities who live alongside the fastest roads. It is the poorest children who have to negotiate the most dangerous routes to school. It is time for governments and the donor community to step up to meet this challenge and to commit to a Decade of Action for Road Safety”, Archbishop Tutu said.
The critical situation of Africa’s roads was revealed by the Make Roads Safe campaign:
- Africa has the highest road death rate per population in the world – 32.2 people per 100,000 population are killed in road crashes (Western Europe’s average is 11 per 100,000);
- Africa’s road deaths, currently over 200,000 a year, are predicted to rise by at least 80% by 2020;
- By 2015 road crashes will be the number one killer of children aged 5-14 in Africa, outstripping Malaria and HIV/AIDS;
- Economically active young people are most at risk of road injury – in Kenya at least 75% of injuries involve young family breadwinners;
- Road crashes are estimated to cost African countries between 1-3% of their Gross National Product (GNP).
Transport ministers from several African countries are participating in the three day meeting, which includes the UN Economic Commission for Africa expert workshop, and pledged their support for the proposal for a Decade of Action for Road Safety, which is due to be discussed at the first global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Russia later this year. Four Transport Ministers, from Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda signed up to the call for a Decade of Action for Road Safety.
Hon. Shukuru Kawambwa, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Development, Tanzania spoke during the opening session of the conference and said:
“It is vital that we pull together to instigate a Decade of Action for Road Safety. In Tanzania we have taken action but we know that much more needs to be done. We need assistance from the international donor organisations. We need to work together with our partners around the world in a coordinated framework. We need strong commitments from the Moscow Ministerial conference in November. Indeed, we all know that we need to wake up to this issue.”
Hon. Amb. Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Minister of Transport, Kenya said:
“The Make Roads Safe Africa conference is a vital staging post ahead of the first ever global Ministerial on road safety. Kenya is joining the call for a Decade of Action for Road Safety. Together with other African Governments we call on the international community to act urgently to combat the crisis.”
Sibusiso Ndebele, Minister of Transport, South Africa said:
“Africa has faced many challenges which cannot be confronted by one country alone. The epidemic of road deaths is no different. South Africa pledges support for a Decade of Action – millions of lives depend on it.”
Hon. John Nasasira, Minister of Transport, Uganda said:
“We are facing a global epidemic of road deaths, one which has hit Africa particularly hard. In Uganda, fatalities and injuries have been increasing over the last 10 years. We know this is unacceptable, and they cannot be allowed to continue increasing over the next 10 years. A Decade of Action for Road Safety must be put firmly within the development agenda for Africa. Africa cannot afford the economic and human cost of inaction.”
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