roadsADDIS ABABA — The International Road Federation (IRF) has called for concerted efforts to reduce road traffic fatalities in Africa, which remain high on the continent, and also to achieve the UN goal of reducing road traffic fatalities by 50 percent by 2020.As the present situation on road safety is challenging in Africa, Kiran Kapila, IRF Chair, has underlined the need to work with concerted efforts and in partnership to improve the scenario.

The Chairman was speaking on Wednesday at the opening of an International Conference organised to deliberate on road safety challenge for Africa, in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

Kapila told reporters that road safety is challenging in Africa due to poor road infrastructure system, poor vehicle condition, and driving after taking drugs or alcohol among other issues.

The UN Decade of Action Plan was proclaimed in March 2010 towards achieving a goal of reducing global road fatalities by 50 per cent by 2020.

Nearly 1.3 million people die due to road traffic accidents, more than 3,000 deaths each day, and more than half of these people are not travelling in a car, according to IRF.

About 91 percent of road traffic deaths occur in low and middle- income countries, which claim less than half the world’s registered vehicle fleet.

“Challenges in Africa, one of them is the road system that needs a lot of improvement; we have the challenge of people driving after drinking, we haven’t been able to resolve it although efforts have been made to make people realise that this should be done; we have challenges of old vehicles, which are not in good shape on the roads; we have road system which needs improvement; we have difficulties of addressing the trauma of victims after the accident,” noted the Chairman.

Unless immediate and effective action is taken, IRF says road traffic accidents are predicted to result in deaths of around 1.9 million people annually by 2020 in the world.

Kapila said efforts are being made to address the problem in Africa, where more than 60 per cent of the nearly 1.3 million road traffic deaths occur.

“We are trying to get each country in Africa come out with a matrix to showcase as what is the current status of road safety; and then come out also what help they require from us to be able to achieve the objective of the UN Decade of Action Plan of reducing fatalities by 50 per cent in their countries,” he said.

“So, this effort will continue; we will get the data; we will get the details of what we each one wants and then we try to address them with the help of other stakeholders and the multilateral banks, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the EU, and other such institutions,” he added.

The two-day conference, which has brought African officials and representatives of stakeholders together, is expected to be a platform that African countries share experiences and deliberate on ways of designing short and long-term solutions towards tackling the problem.

The conference is also expected to deliberate on the 5Es including, Educating people; Engineering, in connection with roads; Emergency, regarding giving appropriate medical care to victims of traffic accident; Enforcement, with laws; Encouraging the best performers. – Xinhua