Zim Roads Deadliest In Africa – UN

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By Staff Reporter

FIVE people die every day on average because of road accidents in Zimbabwe, says a review on road safety in the country.

But, the report says, this can be reversed.

Launching the Road Safety Performance Review report for Zimbabwe, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe, said the cost of road crashes is heavy on the African economies, especially at this time when the continent is struggling to relaunch its economy amidst the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

“Anything that takes away from Africa’s GDP growth becomes important because we need every bit of it to be able to move forward better. The request by the Zimbabwe authority to review their road transport and safety is encouraging given the dire road safety situation in the country but also the economic context that is very difficult,” Songwe said

The ECA executive secretary also noted that there is an increase in the importation of second-hand vehicles in Zimbabwe and other African countries.

“As a continent we need to take off importation of vehicles that are not up to standard that end up costing lives and are detrimental to economic development,” she said.

The review, conducted in partnership with United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety and the Zimbabwe government, is aimed at reducing the number of road accident deaths and injuries in the country.

It found that road traffic crash deaths in Zimbabwe rose by about 34% between 2011 and 2019. Fatalities rose from 1 836 in 2016 to an average of 2 000 deaths per year – over five deaths per day – from 2017 to 2019.

Songwe commended Jean Todt, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety for commissioning the report in collaboration with ECA and ensuring its successful completion. She also lauded the government of Zimbabwe for seeing the need to conduct the road safety performance review, which shows the Government’s commitment to prioritizing road safety as a Sustainable Development issue. Vera Songwe urged more countries to recognize its importance to their growth and development.

Zimbabwe is the fourth African country after Cameroon, Ethiopia and Uganda to launch a road safety performance review report.

The purpose of the Road Safety Performance Review Report for Zimbabwe was to determine progress made in implementing the first United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 with the objective of stabilizing the rate of road crash fatalities and reduce them by 50% by 2020. It also makes recommendations to the Government to strengthen road safety management for the Second Decade of Action, 2021–2030.

Jean Todt, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety said Africa has the highest road fatalities in the world. Todt said that the figure, of about five people dying every day in Zimbabwe from road crashes, was likely to triple if no action was taken.

He said Zimbabwe could reverse the high number of accidents on its roads by implementing the recommendations of the review report.

“Reports indicate that 90% of the people and goods in Africa are moved by road. Transport and mobility can only be sustainable if it is safe. We need safer roads, better vehicles, quality data and safer infrastructure for a sustainable road transport in Africa,” said Todt.

Todt urged the Zimbabwe government to fully implement the seven core United Nations Conventions on road safety, the African Road Safety Charter, and the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Trans-African Highways.

He noted that worldwide, 1,3 million people are killed every year from road crashes and over 50 million are injured, with Africa recording the highest fatality rates per 100 000 inhabitants.

John Mangwiro, deputy minister of Health and Child Care pointed out that road accidents are a major cause of preventable deaths and injuries in the world including in Zimbabwe.

“We are committed in ensuring road safety through the implementation of actions mentioned in the report,” Mangwiro said.

The government, he said, has opened an accident and emergency reporting institution and plans to equip ambulances with personnel that can efficiently handle road accidents. The ambulances will be placed strategically along highways.

Training of health workers on road accident emergencies will also be done to provide intensive care services immediately which is critical in preventing deaths.

George Vera, National Consultant for the report said the Road Safety Performance Review identified four priority interventions agreed between UNECE/UNECA and confirmed by national stakeholders. They include Road Safety Management strengthening; increasing capacity of the National Road Safety Lead Agency; a road Crash Database, improving statistical indicators and disaggregated data, and Post-Crash Care Response and Coordination System (establishment of a lead coordinating agency).

The report also recommends a 10-Year national road safety strategy and action plan to improve road safety in Zimbabwe between 2021 – 2030.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The road safety review, requested by the Government of Zimbabwe, was conducted in partnership with the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, ECA, and the United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe (UNECE). The review provides a detailed assessment of the road safety and management capacity situation in the country, and pinpoints concrete measures to save lives