Road Safety Trust Fund

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ROAD SAFETY ARTICLE

Frank Uzor (not real name), his wife and their one year and six months old daughter were heading to church on a sunny Sunday morning in their black Lexus Jeep. He stopped by a bank to make a withdrawal for offering .After parking his car at a spot he believed was safe enough, Frank crossed over to the other side of the road, made his withdrawal at the ATM before crossing back to his vehicle parked at the other side; he got into his car but before he could start his car and move, a Toyota   hilux lost control and crashed onto their Jeep. Frank who was anxiously waiting to lavish his lavish on their third year marriage anniversary just few weeks ahead, died on the spot while his wife went into coma and was unconscious for two days before she eventually regained consciousness. Miraculously, their daughter who was strapped to a car seat behind came out unhurt-she was found just the way she was- strapped.

Franks death was perhaps one of the pathetic true life stories I have heard about. The daughter in all her innocence lives today because the parents chose to do the right thing by ensuring that she was properly strapped. Contrast her case with the recent tragedy that befell one time Minister and a retired Army General who I hold in the highest esteem. Although I never met him in person,  I  still recall efforts made by some friends who tried to link me up with him when enlisting in the Military was my  greatest desire. That desire never came to pass, neither the opportunity to meet him. I am talking about the  road traffic crash which caused the death of  our  former Internal Affairs Minister, General  John Shagaya (rtd), According to reports, the 75-year-old retired army general was on his way to Jos from his village in Langtang, when the crash occurred at Amper in Kanke Local Government of the State. He was said to be travelling along with his driver and orderly when the accident occurred. But while the two survived with serious injuries, the retired General died. The report says he was unbelted while his driver who survived were said to be on their seat belt.

I am sure you still remember my write up on the disaster in Canada and India which claimed the lives of over 30 school children in both countries. The figure reminded me of similar disasters that have occurred in our own country involving school bus and resulting in the death of school children. Such crashes and others worldwide which is roughly estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) at 1.3million deaths yearly and up to 50million injuries accounted for the historic event of 12 April 2018 held at the United Nations New York office. It was   the launch of the United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund. It was a major step to address such tragedies and spur concrete actions that could save lives and prevent injuries and associated trauma resulting from road accidents. The launch according to observers provides the appropriate plank to save the lives of millions of people around the world, and to prevent injuries, suffering and the loss of opportunity associated with road accidents.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe,(UNECE)  which is  the secretariat for the trust fund, ‘’every USD 1,500 contributed to the fund could save one life; prevent 10 serious injuries; and leverage USD 51,000 towards investments in road safety’’. In the words of the head of UNUCE,Olga Algayerova,”The Road Safety Trust Fund will serve as a catalyst for much-needed progress towards the road safety targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. The fund deals specifically with the Sustainable Development Goals targets which aim to half the number of global deaths and injuries from road crashes. President of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile and UN Special Envoy for Road Safety, shares same optimism, “(The Trust Fund) has the potential to galvanize our global efforts to address the road safety situation, building on the progress made and experience gained over the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020,” he said.

There is no doubt that as echoed by observers and experts the Fund will provide the appropriate plank for efforts along the five pillars of the Global plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety, which includes strengthening road safety management capacities, improving safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks, enhanced safety of vehicles, improved behavior of road users and improved post crash care. Worthy of note is the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly sponsored by Russia which calls for a host of other measures to cut down crashes. One of such measures is the adoption of policies and measures to implement vehicle safety regulations to ensure that all new vehicles meet minimum regulations for the protection of vehicle occupants and other road uses with seal belt, airbags and other active safety systems fitted as standards.

I am no doubt excited about the event especially against the background of what the World Health Organizations (WHO) says about road fatalities in sub-Saharan Africa which it says is projected to increase by 112%, from approximately 243,000 in 2015 to 514,000 in 2030. This increase is said to be   a far greater percentage increase than any other region of the world, and is in stark contrast to the projected reduction in fatalities in Europe, Central Asia , East Asia and the Pacific.

The  Reports shows that road fatalities per capita are projected to increase by 51% over the period 2015-2030, at the same time fatalities per capita is projected to decline for both HIV/AIDS (-18%) and malaria (-24%). Road fatalities it further notes are projected to overtake the number of malaria fatalities in the Africa during this period. To cause a shift from this global tragedy, WHO recommends   a system based intervention which gives priority to institutional management and capacity issues. According to WHO, “a key factor in tackling the growing road traffic injury burden is the creation of institutional capacity across a range of interlinking sectors, backed by both strong political commitment and adequate and sustainable resources”.