Zim committed to road safety Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Felix Mhona

 Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter 

Zimbabwe is committed to cooperation under the United Nations system for the adoption of international good practices and standards on road safety, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona said yesterday.

He was speaking in Geneva on capitalising on success stories and strengthening capabilities among low and middle-income countries to achieve their goals under the second decade of action while attending the Inland Transport Committee Forum for Road Safety High Level Event.

“As I participate in this noble debate, allow me from the outset to acknowledge the leadership of the ITC in coordinating States in towards road safety,” said Minister Mhona. 

“Your ability to facilitate a conducive environment for reflecting on pressing global road safety issues, should be remembered as a hallmark of your leadership thus far.

“I wish to reiterate that Zimbabwe is committed to cooperation under the United Nations system, and to the adoption of international good practices and standards on road safety. Indeed, Zimbabwe joins the United Nations family in shaping the attendant discourse, underpinned by the critical question that is among the top policy priorities for governments around the world on: how we can turn the second decade of action into a decade of delivery for road safety.” 

Zimbabwe is one of the many countries that have missed the target of the Sustainable Development Goals to halve the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020. 

He said the road safety situation is, indeed, more acute in developing countries, and the reasons are manifold. 

“While our counterparts from the developed world have fared comparably well in adopting sustainable measures to reduce the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents, we, in developing countries, remain entangled in the legacies and inequities of the past,” Minister Mhona. 

“The race for economic development, at the backdrop of insufficient road infrastructure development, compounded by a disproportionate vehicle population growth has created this untenable situation resulting in increased crashes and fatalities. We also have to be alive to the practical challenges that the governments of the global south are facing in meeting the SDG targets on road safety. The devastating effects of Covid-19 have been telling on all sectors of our economies.” 

The diversion of resources meant for developing and modernising transport infrastructure to cope with the rapid rise in the number of vehicles while supporting basic livelihoods and confronting the pandemic are just some of the direct consequences of the pandemic.

The impact of climate change and variability were becoming more evident, with increased incidences of cyclones and floods which have extensively damaged the transport infrastructure and routes. 

“While climate-change adaptation, mitigation and resilience building have been mainstreamed into Zimbabwe’s national policies, it remains a challenge which needs joint remedial action with the international community,” said Minister Mhona. 

“Despite the robust engagement and re-engagement efforts by my country’s leadership, illegal unilateral coercive measures imposed by some Western countries remain an albatross to our efforts towards achieving our set road safety targets.

“I therefore want to use this platform to rally the international community to encourage countries which have imposed these sanctions on us to lift them, as they are hurting the ordinary people and frustrating our efforts towards meeting, not only the global road safety targets, but also the broader SDGs.” 

The National Development Strategy (NDS) 1 (2021-2025) envisaged that by 2025, Zimbabwe should achieve high quality and efficient public transport service, leveraged by a safer, efficient, affordable, accessible and smart multimodal transportation system, covering both the rural and urban areas, with a view to reduce road accidents and fatalities by a 25 percent margin per annum. Minister Mhona said the high-level meeting had come after the Zimbabwe road safety performance review, which produced a report in January last year.

“The review was carried out to assist Zimbabwe’s road safety management capacities and to improve the national road safety record,” he said. “On that note, we pay special tribute to the Office of the Special Envoy on Road Safety, Mr Jean Todt, for their unwavering support throughout the review process. 

“According to the report, in Zimbabwe, a traffic crash occurs every 15 minutes, over 35 000 crashes occur annually, an average of at least five people are killed every day, over 1 800 people die every year and over 10 000 people are injured annually,” he said.

“As we move in to confront the above challenges, we are upbeat that the recommendations proffered by the experts shall adequately checkmate our deficiencies, with the view to propel structural, institutional and administrative transformations, leveraged by a robust legislative framework. 

“As we begin to implement the recommendations around the main pillars of road safety management, we have galvanised our national road safety management system through updating the regulatory framework to include international and regional recommendations.” 

Zimbabwe begun the process of acceding to the UN Road Safety Conventions which the country was not yet party to.

The Ministry was currently reviewing policies and laws to strengthen the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe into a lead road traffic management agency, with the powers enforce road traffic safety management through coordination and robust regulation of the road traffic actors.

“This effort has found profound expression in our 2023 budget which speaks volume of the commitment of Government at the highest level to mainstream road traffic safety in its programming,” Minister Mhona.

“This has given us impetus to align ourselves with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.6 on halving the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes; and SDG target 11.2 on providing access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems as well as improve road safety for all.

“The legislative reform is also covering issues related to registration and monitoring of driving schools, introduction of the penalty point system for drivers who flout road rules, unveiling of the corporate veil in a manner that will penalise owners of public service vehicles who authorise, or turn blind eye to drivers who do not meet the minimum driving pre-requisites for that grade.

“My Ministry is spearheading a process for their accession and domestication of the UN road safety conventions. We have targeted to accede to the following conventions: The 1957 agreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous good (adr); the 1958 agreement concerning the adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted 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 or be used on wheeled vehicles.

“We join the world today with a clear conscience that road traffic crashes are preventable and the time has come for us to stand up and act decisively to halt this forgotten pandemic. We have nothing to lose by taking action today, but we have future generations to lose through inaction as this pandemic kills mainly the 5-29 years age groups. 

“We cannot let history and the future judge us harshly for our unwarranted hesitation and inactions against this road crashes. Surely, we can draw lessons and inspiration from our unity of purpose and collective global action demonstrated in our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

Zimbabwe remained optimistic in confronting the seemingly insurmountable challenges faced in achieving the SDG target on road safety. 

“Zimbabwe embraces smart, win-win partnerships and sustainable cooperation with multilateral stakeholders within the UN system,” said Minister Mhona. “Allow me to reiterate Zimbabwe’s commitment towards the decade of action for road safety 2021-2030.

“We have no doubt that these targets will be met as Zimbabwe has launched Vision 2030, anchored on the collective aspirations and determination of the people to achieve a prosperous and empowered upper middle-income society by that target year, as enunciated by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde, Dr. E.D Mnangagwa.”

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