HRH Prince Michael of Kent and Kenyan Ministers launch Decade in Nairobi 

 13/05/2011  | | Print

The launch event at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre 
HRH Prince Michael presents the latest report from the Commission for Global Road Safety to the Hon Kalonzo Musyoka MP, Vice President of Kenya
HRH Prince Micheal of Kent talking to Monica Muthoni, aged 19, a patient at the National Spinal Injury Hospital, Nairobi
Decade banner in Nairobi, Kenya

Prince Michael of Kent was the guest of honour at the launch ceremony of the Decade of Action held in Nairobi Kenya at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. The Kenyan Government was represented by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and the Transport Minister Amos Kimunya. Organised by the National Road Safety Council and the AA of Kenya the launch event was also attended by Dr Abdoulie Jack of the World Health Organisation and David Ward from the FIA Foundation.

Kenya loses 3,000 people a year in road crashes and nearly ten times that number are injured. Vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists account for over 50% of the country’s fatalities. Another major problem is the safety of public transport buses or matatus which are frequently involved in crashes causing multiple losses of lives and injuries.

Speaking at the launch the Minister of Transport, Amos Kimunya, outlined new measures phase out unsafe buses and improve the vehicle licensing system in order to make “our matatus to be the safest in the world”. Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka highlighted the important role played by the National Road Safety Council and proposed that it be transformed into an autonomous authority. On behalf of the Kenyan Government he strongly welcomed the UN Decade of Action and pointed out that “reducing fatalities could lower suffering, unlock growth and free resources for more productive growth”.

Representing the Commission for Global Road Safety as its Patron, HRH Prince Michael of Kent welcomed the momentum provided by the UN Decade of Action bringing much needed commitment and resources to this important but neglected issue. “We have made a promising start”, Prince Michael explained. “The Decade of Action was endorsed by one hundred governments in the UN General Assembly.  It has a clear and compelling goal: which is to stabilise and reduce global road deaths by 2020. If we achieve that, we would prevent up to 5 million deaths and 50 million serious injuries over the next ten years. Of course, they cause much heartache and unhappiness. But these casualties also come with a high economic cost, estimated to be in the trillions of dollars over the course of a decade.  So there could hardly be a stronger financial imperative to solving this global crisis”.

Describing the impact of road crashes in Kenya as “severe” the Prince warned that, “You are losing a vast number of people on the roads, many of them young wage earners, responsible for their families.  Many of these deaths and injuries are preventable, when roads are better designed; when speed is managed; when seat belts and crash helmets are worn; when drink driving laws are actively enforced; when the rights and needs of pedestrians are recognised; when safe and efficient public transport is provided. I hope today will mark the beginning of a new phase in tackling road traffic injuries, not only here in Kenya, but across the continent of Africa and indeed across the world”.

Following the launch the Prince visited the National Spinal Injury Hospital in Nairobi which cares for patients with spinal cord injuries from across East and Central Africa. 70% of the patients were injured in road crashes. The Hospital has a bed capacity of 45, an occupancy rate of 100% and a waiting list of 100. At the centre the Prince met the Minister of Medical Services Prof. Anyang Nyong’o and toured the facility with its superintendent Dr Otieno Soren. He met patients including 19 year old high school student Monica Muthoni who was injured in a car crash caused by a tyre failure last December and 47 year old  Johnson Gachuria who was injured after his car rolled after trying to avoid a motorcycle.

Later the Prince visited the Headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and was briefed on the ‘Share the Road’ initiative developed jointly by the FIA Foundation and UNEP and the Alliance for Eco-Mobility. The campaign aims to promote a more sustainable and community-centred approach to road building and upgrading, and calls for a minimum 10% finance for Safety, Sustainability and Accessibility’ in line with the recommendations of the Commission for Global Road Safety. The scheme is pioneering road design that will cater for the needs of vulnerable road users rather than giving priority to motor vehicles.