South Africa minister of transport Sibusiso Ndebele has called on the international community to ensure that road safety is part of the global development agenda.
Addressing international road safety policymakers on Wednesday at the Commission for Global Road Safety's policy and donor forum in New York, Ndebele said: “Each year almost 1.3 million people are killed, and millions more injured and disabled, on the world's roads. The importance of including road safety as part of a new approach to sustainable transport cannot be over-emphasised.
“Road safety must be part of the sustainable development agenda, recognising the impact of road traffic injuries on development goals.
“Road safety has been side-lined as a development issue despite an environmental and public impact that is arguably comparable to other major issues including HIV and malaria. The consequence has been lack of political attention, media understanding and donor and government underfunding.
TICKING TIME BOMB
“The road safety challenge has presented the global community a ticking time bomb. Road crashes have become an obstacle to Africa's development through loss of capital, human life and destruction to property, costing African countries an estimated 1-3 percent of their gross national product
“Africa has the highest road-injury fatality rate of all World Health Organisation regions. By 2015, road crashes will be the No.1 killer of children aged 5-14, outstripping Malaria and Aids.
“The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 must be put firmly within the global development agenda. We cannot afford the economic and human cost of inaction anymore.
OPEN THEIR EYES
“The greatest partners in this struggle against road carnage must be those who have lost relatives and friends in road crashes. The second group of partners in this fight must be the very young, who are yet to acquire bad driving habits, and the third set of partners must be the religious sector who bury the dead.
“It is the living who close the eyes of the dead, but it is the dead who must open the eyes of the living,” Ndebele said.
According to the World Health Organisation as many as five million lives could be saved and 50 million serious injuries prevented if road safety programmes are implemented worldwide, during the course of the decade 2011-2020. - Sapa