April 5, 2017 By Mohamed Massaquoi
As part of it commitment in bringing government to the people and the people to the government through transparency and accountability issues, the Open Government Initiative (OGI), in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA), has organised a one day stakeholders meeting at State House to discuss the way forward in protecting the lives of Sierra Leoneans.
SLRSA Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Bendu, said her institution has made several strides in promoting and implementing initiatives aimed at increasing public awareness about road safety in schools, local communities and the private sector.
She said they have also established a dedicated team of enforcement officers known as the Road Safety Corps, working jointly with members of the Sierra Leone Police especially the traffic division to enhance the system for traffic management and reduce congestion in urban areas.
She noted that despite all efforts and successes of the SLRSA, road safety was still a concern for all organisations in the public, private and civil society sectors, as well as a responsibility of every citizen.
The director added that government has invested heavily on infrastructure development, with improvement on roads in the Western Region and the major highways linking the capital and the rest of the regions in the country, but noted that such development has also brought about increase in road accidents due to human error, with regards driver’s poor behaviour, misuse of alcohol by drivers, failure of road users to comply with the law.
“It is against this backdrop that the SLRSA has summoned this meeting to inform all stakeholders about how we contribute to accident reduction in the country. This however has to be done in a systematic manner with the involvement of all of you present at this meeting today. The UN Global Road Safety Week is an annual event that is organized by WHO, the lead UN Agency for Road Safety. The event is scheduled to take place from the 8 – 14 May in all UN Member States. The Week will focus on speed and what can be done to address this key risk factor for road traffic deaths and injuries. Speed contributes to around one-third of all fatal road traffic crashes in high-income countries, and up to half in low- and middle-income countries,” she said.
She said the Fourth UN Global Road Safety Week seeks to increase understanding about the dangers of speed and generate action on measures to address speed, thereby saving lives on the roads.
“Previous Global Road Safety weeks have focused on child safety, youth safety and pedestrian safety. This is the first time that the week will focus on motorists’ behaviors of drivers and bike riders and how to mitigate the dangers of road accidents caused by excessive speeding,” she said.
Director of OGI, madam Khadija Sesay, said her institution has been effectively engaging the citizens on national issues, and that road safety was a major public concern.
She said in keeping in line with the objective OGI they have decided to hold symposium for the effective coordination of road safety activities in the country.
“The proposed open dialogue forum is intended to educate the public on issues of road safety .The ultimate goal would be create a well-informed citizenry on government response to saving lives in accordance with international best practices.Despite limited resources it is incumbent on every participant and government officials entrusted with resources to ensure that the appropriate resources are available for the implementation of some of the road safety programmes,” she noted.