By Azania Post Reporter
EAST African countries (EAC) have been urged to increase more efforts to tackle physical and non physical causative factors that led to road accidents which claimed thousands of people in the region .
Speaking during the opening of the opening session of the Infrastructure Roundtable on Day One of the EAC Heads of State Joint Retreat on Infrastructure and Health Financing and Development today in Kampala, Ugandan minister for Works Monica Ntege said statistics on road accident are worrying .
“According to the WHO, the average rate of global road fatalities in 2015 was 17 deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants. In Europe, this figure was 9.2 while in Africa it was 26.5 and current trends show that it is rising every year.
Citing she said compared with the 2.9 road fatality rate of the United Kingdom, the countries in East Africa have rates higher than even the African average, with Tanzania at 32.9, Rwanda at 32.1, Kenya at 29.1 and Uganda at 27.4. This means that concerted efforts need to be made both on the physical and non-physical causative factors,” she said.
Minister Ntege who is also the Chairperson of the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers for Transport, Communications and Metereology said the community has recently developed standardized curricula for the training of commercial drivers which aims at instilling virtues like courtesy, speed perception and environmental awareness skills.
The Minister, however, said that Partner States should do more to instill and sustain proper behavioural competencies on all road users, including even law enforcement personnel, adding that percentage of accidents could be attributed to poor pavement and geometric road conditions and these should be addressed through infrastructure upgrading.
Ntege urged the EAC Secretariat to expedite the adoption of harmonized standards for road design and construction, by all the Partner States as directed by the Council and provide separations between motor cycles and vehicles.
“Resources should be mobilized to support the Partner States in the area of road safety to stem the tide of unnecessary deaths on our roads and reduce pressure on our hospital bed capacities now occupied by a large number of accident injury patients,” she said
According to her the EAC partner States will maintain high budgetary allocations geared towards financing infrastructure development within their national borders.
She said that the development of efficient, interlinked and modern infrastructure and energy systems will positively impact on trade, movement of persons, industrialization, value chains, employment, investments that would prepare the regional economies for socio-economic take-off.
Upon the full implementation of the prioritized projects, the region will among other things have improved 7600 km of road surface, laid 4000 km of standard gauge railways, and increased the combined installed capacity of electrical power generation from 4245 MW to 6734 MW, she said.
On his part the EAC Deputy Secretary General for Planning and Infrastructure, Eng. Steven Mlote, said that infrastructure development was recognized as the prime mover of socio-economic development in the region and would therefore continue to receive the highest level of political support from EAC Heads of State.
He said said the Joint Retreat would assess the progress of implementation of previously prioritized projects and consider and approve new infrastructure projects for joint/coordinated development.