UN-led initiative to tackle growing impact of traffic accident in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA: May 20 (Ethiopian Informer) – United Nations and the Ethiopian government have joined their hands to enhance road safety in Ethiopia through a newly launched initiative that aimed to tackle the growing impact of traffic accident.

The new UN-led initiative, which was launched over the weekend in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, mainly aimed to reviewing the East African country’s road safety performance.

Ethiopia has in recent years witnessed a growing rate of traffic accident as well as its impact on human lives as well as an increasing rate of capital damage.

According to figures from the Ethiopian Transport Authority, some 5,118 people had died in traffic accidents in the East African country during the 2017/18 Ethiopian fiscal year that ended on July 8.

The number of people killed and the rate of accidents occurred also registered major increases during stated period, as the number of people killed increased from 4,500 to 5,118 while a record number of close to 41,000 traffic accidents were registered during the period, according to the authority.

Related property damage is also estimated at 31 million U.S. dollars for the same period.

“This will greatly help speed-up our efforts to reduce fatalities,” said Gashaw Tenna, a senior adviser to Ethiopia’s transport minister, during the launching event of the new UN-led initiative.

“We need road safety performance review to contextually link our day to day traffic control endeavors with high-level plans,” Tenna added.

The initiative was launched under the auspices of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), as well as the government of Ethiopia.

Priti Gautam, Programme Management Officer at the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, also thanked the Ethiopian transport ministry for requesting the performance review, saying that “the Ethiopian government has shown interest and willingness to make a difference in road safety.”

“The exercise was being done in Ethiopia because it’s located in a continent that suffers from the highest rate of road traffic fatalities in the world and Ethiopia ranks 22nd globally, which is high,” Gautam said.

The importance of the road safety performance review was also highlighted by Chief of ECA’s Energy, Infrastructure and Services Section, Robert Lisinge.

“We want to avoid a case of unintended consequences whereby the story of Ethiopia’s economic growth – with accompanying infrastructure development and increased car ownership – is eroded by increased road accidents and deaths,” Lisinge said.

ECA’s Energy, Infrastructure and Services chief also said that “the ECA has been at the forefront of road safety since the 1980s.”

“ECA was instrumental in developing the Africa Road Safety Action Plan and the African Road Safety Charter,” Lisinge said, adding “We have done performance reviews on other countries, including Uganda and Cameroon.”

“We understand what the challenges in undertaking road safety reviews are and we are ready to bring that experience to Ethiopia,” Lisinge added.

Issues related to data, road safety audits, inspections, and stakeholder coordination were among the problem-areas identified during the inception meeting, which brought together representatives of Ethiopia’s ministries of transport, health and education, ECA and ECE, it was noted.

The review exercise is also expected to develop a report that will be launched and handed over to the government of Ethiopia when completed, it was noted.

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