November 15, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) has yesterday remembered road traffic victims, with the theme “Vital Post-Crash Action: Medical Care, Investigation, Justice” at the Miatta Conference centre in Freetown.
Human Resources Manager of SLRSA, Joseph Dauda, said road traffic crash was a major problem all over the world, adding that sometimes when the crashes occur, victims were left unattended to and that they either die or rendered handicapped.
“In the West where we have better roads and lots of vehicles, they have fewer accidents, but there are lots of road traffic crashes in Africa, where we have fewer vehicles,” he said.
He said SLRSA joined its compatriots across the world to commemorate victims of road traffic crashes because people hardly talk about them, noting that they wanted to use the day to continue raising awareness on the usage of the road.
Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation, Mohamed Allieu Jalloh, said although the country was a signatory to many sub-regional, regional and global road safety organizations and international treaties, which among others required state parties to undertake and promote road safety programmes, Sierra Leone did not meet most obligations prior to 2011.
He disclosed that the number of vehicles in the road network increased from 34,654 in 2005 to 50,443 in 2011, adding that the increase resulted in severe traffic congestion and conflicts between various road users, thereby increasing the incidences of crashes and the severity of injuries.
He said Sierra Leone faced a very severe absence of crash data and that there was no integration of data from the Police and hospitals.
“In 2009, 2204 traffic crashes were recorded, with 165 deaths. The highest number was in the Western Area, which recorded 1536 cases,” he said.
He added that it has been estimated that road traffic crashes cost Sierra Leone 1.3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said road safety interventions since 2012 include formulation and launching of National Road Safety Policy and Strategy, the construction of a modern vehicle testing centre, equipped with state of the art vehicle testing tools at the SLRSA’s head office, construction of modern office building in Makeni with a vehicle testing facility, production of a revised High Way Code for Road Users, production and dissemination of the revised Road Traffic Regulation 2011, among others.
Commissioner of Insurance, Augustine Kanu, said the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Accident Victims was indeed a move in the right direction on the part of the United Nations, especially when one takes into consideration the number of people that are killed or injured worldwide every year.
“The incidence of road traffic accidents worldwide, especially in sub-Saharan Africa is growing at an astronomical proportion. The latest statistics of road traffic crashes is over 15 million not to talk of persons, who are physically and psychologically maimed as a result of these gruesome road accidents,” he said.
He called on SLRSA to continue working hard to ensure that additional modalities and strategies are put in place to prevent or at least reduce the incidence of accidents on the roads.
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abubakarr Fofanah, said road safety was an individual, as well as a collective responsibility of all Sierra Leoneans, noting that the loss of people’s lives to road traffic accidents comes as a huge social and economic cost to the country.
“These are parents, children, breadwinners and other family members and professionals. Road fatalities cost the country millions of Leones each year, diverting scarce resources from other social and economic needs of the country,” he said.
He called on SLRSA to adhere to the policy of driving test before issuing driving licenses, revise the current alcohol limits for drivers, support the ban on alcohol advertising, set up the investigations of fraudulent licensing centres, impound road unworthiness vehicles, introduce measures to reduce fatalities caused by stray animal, and encourage passengers to take responsibility for their own safety.
Mr. Gamanga of SLRSA said based on Police report, 304 people died of road accidents since January, this year, adding that the World Day of remembrance of road traffic victims was set aside to draw the attention of government to put efforts together to curb accidents.
“Out of that number, 123 died of motor bike accidents. Most of those victims are breadwinners or potential leaders that would have changed this country for the better,” he said.