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The UN Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt, has urged African governments to consider road safety as a critical element for consideration when planning for sustainability in urban areas in their respective countries.

He said the challenges around road safety and urban mobility were huge but substantial progress was possible; thus it was important that governments implement strategies that decouple growth of mobility from the growth of road crashes.

“As urban areas continue to flourish and become rampantly inhabited around the world by people, vehicles and new road networks, we must ensure that safety is a critical element for consideration when planning for sustainability” he said.

“In order to do this, road safety must be considered as part and parcel of sustainable mobility and transport” he noted, adding that “it is not yet an additional criterion, but a basic condition for livable cities”.

Jean Todt was speaking at the International Road Safety Regional Workshop on “Road Safety and Urban Mobility” held in Accra.

Mr. Todt indicated that sustainable transport and mobility in the urban setting required a combination of policy elements, including safe, reliable and affordable public transport, investment in infrastructure for motorized and non-motorized transport as well as environmentally friendly, efficient and multimodal transport options.

“These policies must align with urban and special planning plan, land management, housing, environmental and other relevant policies” he said, adding that transport and mobility even with all these elements can only be sustainable if they are also safe.

Mr. Todt who was also introduced as Road Safety Ambassador for Ghana at the workshop called on governments to prioritize building local technical capacity in this regard including acceding to and implementing the UN convention on road safety, road signs and signals as well as on vehicle regulations, which also address emissions,” he averred.

Speaking at the conference, Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, noted that Africa is the epicentre of global urbanization as the continent is undergoing a rapid urban transition, with nearly 50 per cent of the African population expected to live in urban areas by 2030.

“Unfortunately, urbanization is often associated with motorization as well as an increase in road traffic fatalities and injuries, he bemoaned, saying “this situation calls for creative and proactive thinking in order to arrest the negative impact for urban mobility and road safety”.

“We have to minimize the dangers on our roads and I believe we can only achieve this through the creation of a road safety culture that reinforces proper road behaviour, safe road infrastructure and the use of safe vehicles” he stated.

He said besides the challenges that accompanied the provision of urban transport infrastructure and services, the associated road traffic crashes is a global pandemic which requires that individuals, corporate citizens and governments must equally assume a more proactive and responsible attitude to deal with it.

The two-day workshop is a platform to start and move forward discussions on how to address road safety challenges given the rapidly growing urbanization in Africa. Participants are expected to deliberate on policy interventions at the continental level in terms of performance of African countries in implementing road safety initiatives.
Source: Daily Guide

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