The African Union Commission (AUC) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) have called on African policy makers to support the campaign of the United Nations to make 30 km/h the norm for cities worldwide.
The call was made in an AU/ECA workshop organised to validate the African Road Safety Action Plan for the Decade 2021 to 2030, with the theme “overcoming the challenge of halving road deaths by 2030”, on Thursday.
The campaign, celebrated between May 17 and May 23, was launched at the beginning of the 6th UN Global Road Safety Week.
The slogan for the campaign was “Streets for Life” to call for 30 km/h speed limits to be the norm for cities, towns and villages worldwide.
The campaign stressed that low speed streets save lives and were the heart of any community.
It also stressed that 30 km/h speed limits, where people and traffic mixed, made for streets that were safe, healthy, green and liveable.
It further called on policy makers to act for low speed streets worldwide, limiting speeds to where people walk, live and play.
In his opening remarks, Mr William Lugemwa, the Director, Private Sector Development and Finance Division, ECA said many countries still had to take significant action to implement activities in line with Africa’s Action Plan to reduce carnage on the streets.
Lugemwa noted that this was despite identifying several good practices to improve road safety in the continent.
The actions, according to the director, include setting road safety targets; allocating resources to road safety, both human and financial; building capacity for Road Safety Data Management; prioritising road safety audits and inspections; undertaking rigorous assessment of the safety of vehicles; and putting in place and enforcing legal instruments that address various risk factors.
“The bottom line is that Africa continues to have the most dangerous roads in the world, with the risk of death from road traffic injury being highest on the continent.”
He said road safety was now recognised as a development issue and included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He also added it was an integral part of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Norms and Standards of the Trans-African Highways.
“As we finalise the continental action plan and develop national plans, we should bear in mind the need to align them with the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
“African countries must take the lead in improving the safety of their roads.
“In doing so, they should share experiences among themselves as good practice exists on the continent. They should also harness the opportunities offered by development partners,” Lugemwa said.
He further noted there was scope to strengthen private sector involvement in road safety in Africa.
“To that end, we should explore ways of bringing together public and private entities in platforms that enable them to make road safety commitments, and create communities in which members can share their expertise and actions, as well as inspire and learn from each other.”
He further added that digitalisation offered opportunities for road safety in Africa.
“This is critical as lack of comprehensive, accurate and updated data constitutes a major hurdle to evidence-based decision making on road safety in Africa.
“IT systems could help overcome this hurdle.”
Lugemwa assured member states of the ECA’s continued support in addressing challenges faced and assured of the commission’s work with partners to save lives on Africa’s roads.
Member states were further encouraged to ratify the African Road Safety Charter, with Namibia being the only country that has ratified the Charter.
The meeting, however, provided Africa’s policy makers and road safety experts an opportunity to discuss how the continent could sustain road safety gains scored since 2011.
It also showed how to implement activities in areas lagging behind and how to take on board emerging issues that had implications on the safety of its roads. (NAN)
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