Road safety experts and officials from ECOWAS Member States deliberate and consider uniform actionable measures to curb the astronomical increase in deaths resulting from road crashes

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

The ECOWAS Commission, on 15th and 16th September 2021, assembled heads of Road Safety Agencies, Transport Ministries, and other government officials in-charge of Road Safety Policy in Member States to review and consider proposals for an ECOWAS Regional Road Safety Policy, Regional Road Safety Regulation, Action Plan and a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. The Workshop, held in Lagos Nigeria, was also attended by the West African Federation of Engineering Organizations and virtually by the African Development Bank.

The World Health Organization in its 2016 publication on road safety reported more than 6000 deaths on average on roads of ECOWAS Member States. These fatalities keep increasing and largely surpass the number of deaths resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic in the region. Like a pandemic, the ECOWAS Commission is working with Member States to put in place protocols and prevention measures through a common regional framework with best-practice strategies aligned with the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety 2021-2030. This will ensure harmonized concerted actions to curb this menace, since it costs more to do nothing.

Opening the 2-day workshop, the Commissioner for Infrastructure of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Pathe Gueye, highlighted the gloomy situation of road related fatalities in the region. The Commissioner said “…. the situation is alarming and continues to be a worrisome phenome-non, considering that the average fatality rate in the ECOWAS Region is about five times higher than the average EU mortality rate…”. On the global level, WHO estimates about 1.3 million lives perishing through road traffic crashes annually with young people between the ages of 15-29 years being the most affected. It is against this backdrop that the ECOWAS Commission un-der the EU funded 11th EDF Transport Governance project initiated a Study to prepare a Regional Road Safety Policy Framework, Action Plan and Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism to guide the coordinated and harmonized improvement in safety on our roads. The Study is being undertaken by Experts recruited under a Technical Assistance Project, contracted to PLANET Consulting.

The Commissioner decried the gloomy situation of road safety in the region and called on authorities of Member States to support the ECOWAS Commission in finalizing the regional policy framework documents to enable the timely submission to the ECOWAS Council of Ministers Meeting in December 2021 for their adoption for regional application.

The Road Safety policy for the ECOWAS region aims to significantly reduce road traffic fatalities and injuries, with focus on highest possible safety standards through common ECO-WAS road safety strategies; integrated approach with other policies (health, legal, environment, employment, etc.); shared responsibility among key pertinent agencies/authorities at country and regional levels; improved standardization (infrastructure, vehicle safety, road user attitude, post-crash operations and care); and alignment with other societal objectives to scale-up investment in road safety with proper training of professionals, and development of skills.

In accordance with the Pillars of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 adopted by the UN General Assembly in August 2020, with the theme of “Improving global road safety”, and an ambitious target of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030, the ECOWAS Road Safety Policy Framework addresses issues under Road Safety Management, Safer Roads and Mobility, Safer Vehicles, Safer Road Users and Post-Crash Response.

The ECOWAS Road Safety policy will set the regional Vision and will be accompanied by a Regional Regulation or Road Safety Charter with commitments by Member States to improve road safety through the eradication of identified risk factors. It will also have an action plan with SMART measures to usher all ECOWAS Member States to a coordinated desired end result. Results monitoring and evaluation is also an integral part of the regional drive to reduce the carnage on the roads of the Community.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

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