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RTA engages MPs on road safety

RTA engages MPs on road safety

The Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority (SLRTA) on Friday 11th October 2013 engaged Parliamentarians on the road safety campaign strategy on the theme ‘Our Collective Responsibility In Preventing Road Traffic Crashes –Together We Can Save Lives.’   (L-R) SLRTA Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Bendu, Transport Minister, Logus Koroma, Majority Leader, Hon. S.B.B. Dumbuya & Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu

The event took place at Committee Room 1, Parliament Building, Tower Hill in Freetown.

Transport and Aviation Minister, Leonard Balogun Koroma, aka Logus, said that collective responsibility in combating road traffic crashes in Sierra Leone is one of the objectives of the institution established in 1996 to regulate among others the road transport industry.

He continued that SLRTA also efficiently coordinates and promotes all activities within the road transport sector with a view to enhance and improve the sector’s contribution to economic development.

Logus Koroma disclosed that in recent years, the national vehicle fleet has kept increasing steadily from 34, 654 in 2005 to 50,443 in 2011 while the road infrastructure in the country, especially in the major urban centers, have not kept pace with the increase in vehicle fleet.

He further revealed that road traffic crash results from a combination of factors including the road network, environment, vehicles and road users as well as the way they interact highlighting that the high volume of passengers being transported has an impact on the safety of not only passengers but also vulnerable road users.

The Transport Minister continued that road traffic injuries are a global health and development problem as the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 1.2 million people die from road accidents yearly while as many as 50 million suffer non-fatal injuries and that over 90% of deaths occur in low and middle income countries but observed that the statistics on Sierra Leone is unreliable but  that conservative estimates indicate 1,035 road fatalities yearly.

He further stated that the global cost of road injuries is estimated at $ 518 billion and costs Governments between 1% to 3% of the Gross National Product more than the total amount that these countries receive in development assistance adding, “we hope that the proposed Road Safety Policy presented to Parliament will galvanize MPs to come onboard the road safety advocacy bandwagon as they are role models in national development to be emulated by their people.”

Chairman, Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Transport and Aviation, Hon. Alpha Babatunde Lewally, commended SLRTA for engaging Parliamentarians on road safety and underscored the collective responsibility in combating road safety in the country and underscored the need for Government to enact tough legislations on road safety.

Hon. Alpha Babatunde Lewally further stated that road traffic accidents are one of the fastest growing epidemics in the country and quoted the 2012 WHO report as disclosing that some road accidents are as deadly as the decade long war with no proper data on reported road fatalities.

He further highlighted that the UN vehicle harmonization standards require national vehicle registration and concern for post-care road traffic crashes, especially first aid and taking care of disables in the absence of strong life and vehicle insurance policy.

Hon. Alpha Babatunde Lewally added, “for SLRTA to meet global safety standards require enormous efforts in collaboration with all stakeholders, especially MPs to enforce safety rules” and appealed to SLRTA to set-up road safety campaigns in schools as well as for the subject to be taught in civic education programs.

SLRTA Board Chairman, Professor Harry Turay said that road safety affects everybody and therefore requires the collaborative effort of all stakeholders.

Dr. Sarah Bendu, SLRTA Executive Director stated that with the rising motorization and urbanization, the world, particularly developing countries, face a new global challenge reaching the epidemic proportion that particularly affects children and young people.

The Executive Director also revealed that more than 3,000 people die every day due to road crashes that result to approximately 1. 3 million deaths each year with another 50 million injured which he maintained is the leading cause of death among 15-19 year-olds.

She reiterated that road crashes are not only an economic loss but a devastating emotional loss adding, “we cannot measure emotional problems as they are more severe that physical damage.  Furthermore, SLRTA has developed a National Road Safety Policy and Strategy to address road safety challenges in five thematic areas in line with the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.”

She enlightened that the thematic areas include road safety management; safer roads and mobility; safe vehicles; safer road users and post-crash and went on to state that road crashes recorded in Sierra Leone in 2012 totaled 2, 204; persons fatally injured 381; persons seriously injured 590 and persons slightly injured 572 while the Western Area and Northern Region recorded the highest road traffic fatalities.

The ceremony was chaired by the Majority Leader of Parliament, Hon. S. B. B. Dumbya who described Dr. Sarah Bendu as a performer and that road safety is of importance requiring daily sensitization for the public to understand the dangers and consequences.

Other dignitaries who made silent contributions included the Director of Traffic Management, Chief Police Officer Vincent K. Nabieu and SLICOM Commissioner, Augustus A. Kanu.

A question and answer session climaxed the ceremony.

By Abdul R. Bedor Kamara

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