UN Economic Commission for Europe to support Zim on road safety Ms Tatiana Molcean

Freeman Razemba in Geneva, Switzerland

As the country’s engagement and re-engagement efforts continue bearing fruits, the new executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Ms Tatiana Molcean, has pledged to support Zimbabwe on international transport systems, regulations and requirements on road safety and climate change mitigation.

This week, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona met with Ms Molcean During the sidelines of the 86th session of the United Nations (UN) Inland Transport Committee (ITC), which opened here on Tuesday at the United Nations Palais Des Nations.

It is running under the theme: “Taking ambitious climate action – Moving towards de-carbonised inland transport by 2050”.

Zimbabwe is a contracting party to the Convention on Road Traffic of 19 September 1949 and the Convention on Road Traffic, of 8 November 1968 and has also become an active participant in the annual sessions of the Inland Transport Committee.

It has participated in the following platforms: Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety (WP.1), World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29); Working Party on the Transport of Dangerous Goods; and Working Party on Automated/Autonomous and Connected Vehicles (GRVA).

Zimbabwe is also at an advanced stage towards the accession of 4 Conventions on vehicle regulation and these are the 1957 Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods (ADR); The 1958 Agreement concerning the Adoption of Uniform Technical Prescriptions for Wheeled Vehicles, Equipment and Parts which can be fitted and/or be Used on Wheeled Vehicles and the Conditions for Reciprocal Recognition of Approvals Granted on the Basis of these Prescriptions; The 1997 Agreement concerning the Adoption of Uniform Conditions for Periodical Inspection of Wheeled Vehicles; and The 1998 Agreement concerning the Establishing of Global Technical Regulations for Wheeled Vehicles, Equipment and Parts which can be fitted and/or be Used on Wheeled Vehicles.

Speaking during the meeting with Minister Mhona and his delegation, Ms Molcean said Zimbabwe should feel free to contact her offices if they needed any assistance on road safety.

“We appreciate your presence here and for ITC it is very important to have this engagement and as you know it has been more than 76 years that ITC has been delivering on the global commitments on the platform for Inland Transport,” she said

She said so far they now have 61 legal instruments in the transport field and had analysed the road safety statistics for Zimbabwe on the report she had been given by Minister Mhona.

Ms Molcean said she had noted that the road fund that Zimbabwe had included in its report was also important to support activities in this field and to improve regulations at the national level.

“We can support you in the process of both capacity building and I know you have been working a lot with (The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety), Mr Jean Todt, with the special envoy team but also with the team managing the road safety fund to do a joint project.

“But with my colleagues, there is a new head of the regional Commission for Africa and together we are ready to do projects to support you. And last year I think we had a joint project dedicated to road safety and even some of them, I understood, not all of them were implemented,” she said.

Ms Molcean added that Zimbabwe should not hesitate to contact her office about any specific challenges they are facing or requirements on climate change mitigation as they were ready to assist and support.

In his speech, Minister Mhona congratulated Ms Molcean for her appointment to the position of Executive Secretary of UNECE, which offers secretariat services to the ITC.

“It is an honour and privilege to meet you on the occasion of this engagement. Allow me to express my delegation’s gratitude for the invitation you have extended to us to be part of this occasion of the 86th Session of the ITC,” he said.

He said as a result of knowledge gained from their participation in the ITC, following a capacity building workshop conducted by the UNECE Secretariat, and spearheaded by Mr Walter Nissler, they were now at an advanced stage towards accession of the 4 Conventions on vehicle regulations, which they were upbeat will strengthen their road safety management regime and programming.

Minister Mhona said their participation in the ITC has also strengthened their road safety efforts.

“The issue of road safety has become very topical in Zimbabwe in the last three years after we received support from the UN Secretary General’s Envoy for Road Safety, Mr Jean Todt, to undertake the Zimbabwe Road Safety Performance Review.

“We also had the honour to be visited by Mr Jean Todt in June 2023, who had the occasion to hold consultative meetings with various stakeholders on road safety, including the highest office, His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde, Dr ED Mnangagwa,” he said.

He said the Review produced a Report that was launched on 12 January 2022 and was carried out to assist Zimbabwe’s road safety management capacities and to improve the national road safety record.

“According to the report, in Zimbabwe, a traffic crash occurs every 15 minutes, over 35,000 crashes occur annually, an average of at least 5 people are killed every day, over 1,800 people die every year and over 10,000 people are injured annually. Surely, these are tragedies that can be avoided.

“We have thus programmed ourselves to work harder to reverse the tide and preserve human lives on our roads. We are now formulating robust legal, policy and administrative mechanisms to transform and revolutionise the road traffic safety management regime in Zimbabwe,” Minister Mhona said.

He said as a Ministry, they are working hard to influence policy at the highest level pertaining to the road safety sector.

On international cooperation and support, Minister Mhona said, “We are grateful that sometime in 2022, we received communication from your office, then lead by Madam Olgayerova requesting us to submit areas of potential Cooperation between Zimbabwe and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe within the framework of the United Nations Road Safety Fund (UNRSF).

“We have submitted a request for Capacity Building (Training) for Road Safety Standards adoption, Policy and Legislative Review and supporting multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder buy-in and collaboration in the ratification/accession to Conventions on Road Safety.”

He said he had no doubt that Ms Molcean’s office will continue to accommodate Zimbabwe in the process of its programming with the view to expand the areas of cooperation.

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