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Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC)
Decade of Action for Road Safety for the period 2011 – 2020
24/06/11
Road traffic accidents consequently contribute to enormous suffering and serve as an impediment to economic and social development in many countries

Republic of Botswana

SPEECH BY THE

MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS

HONOURABLE FRANK J. RAMSDEN

AT THE LAUNCH OF THE DECADE OF ACTION FOR ROAD SAFETY

20 JUNE 2011

BOIPUSO CONVENTION CENTRE

GABORONE

Director of ceremonies

Your honor the vice president

Your honour the chief justice

Hon. Leader of the opposition

Honorourable Ministers and your dear spouses

Your worship the major

Members of Parliament

Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic corps

President of the customary court of appeal

Chairperson of the house of chiefs

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

 

It is indeed a pleasure for me to be amongst you today as we launch the Decade of Action for Road Safety for the period 2011 – 2020 in Botswana. Traffic crashes have over the years continued to kill and maim a significant number of people in the country and the rest of the World at the rate of 1.3 million per annum.

This translates to 3000 people a day.  Road traffic accidents consequently contribute to enormous suffering and serve as an impediment to economic and social development in many countries.

 

Traffic statistics in Botswana indicate that a total of 4, 838 people perished on our roads between 2001 and 2010. On average this means that close to 500 people died each year.   During the same period there were 15, 657 serious injuries that will certainly have some lasting impact on the  affected persons, their relatives and the nation at large. 

 

Accidents might be attributed to excessive speed, pedestrian errors, careless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. In fact, the Road Traffic Act defines a drunken driver as someone whose limit is above 0.35mg/ml per litre of breath. It is clear that this limit is way too high, and therefore, intolerable. 

 

It is in light of the above that in  2008 the World Health Organization recommended that countries should seriously consider reducing the limit to 0.05g/per gallon of blood.  This calls for an urgent need for the revision of road traffic provisions in the law to include alcohol and drug related issues. 

The World Health Organisation and the World Bank now strongly advocate for road safety to be given the attention it deserves by Governments. These organizations challenge countries to recognize road safety as a public health problem which in a way proclaims that there are specific health risk factors linked to road crashes.

 

The argument advanced is that the key to achieving better performance in road safety rests more on effective road safety management strategies. Successful strategies should therefore recognize the need for a systematic approach through which various disciplines should work together towards the improvement of road safety. 

Ladies and gentlemen, other platforms that called on U.N.  Member states to seriously address the road safety situation include the Commission for Global Road Safety which specifically advocated for a decade of action for road safety in its 2009 report. Member states were later encouraged by the UN Secretary General to support efforts to establish the decade of action on Road Safety.

 

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed in 2010 “A decade of action for road safety 2011- 2020”, with the ‘projected goal of reducing traffic fatalities through increased and well planned and coordinated activities at regional, national and global levels’. 

Botswana cannot ignore such a worthy call for countries to ensure that effective and sustainable strategies are put in place to address the road carnage that has now become part of our lives. The Decade of Action for Road Safety has also been a key issue in international fora in which Botswana participated. These include the recent Accra resolutions, Dar es Salaam decisions and Moscow resolutions.

 

These meetings called on Governments to develop and implement effective responses to road safety issues. The ultimate goal of the “Decade of Action on Road Safety” will be to reduce the forecast levels of traffic fatalities by half around the World by 2020. 

Five pillars have been developed to guide activities during the Decade of Action.  They are:

1.  Road Safety Management

2.  Safer Roads and Mobility

3.  Safer Vehicles

4.  Safer Road Users and

5.  Post-Crash Response

Worth noting is the fact that the Decade also calls for the development of National Strategies by all nations. I am delighted to inform you that the Botswana National Road Safety Strategy is currently being developed and will be launched when completed. 

Ladies and gentlemen, as we embark on meeting the goals and objectives of the decade, I wish to assure this gathering that given the resources beyond its current limited capabilities, the Ministry of Transport and Communications will push for road safety programmes to be amongst the top of its priorities.

 

Whilst the Ministry is Government’s lead agency in road safety promotion, it is upon road users to ensure that road safety forms a strong element in their driving knowledge, attitudes and practices.

 

Road safety is also a health issue as indicated by the direct involvement of the World Health Organisation and the World Bank.  This has been evidenced locally by the effective role of the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization in their coordination of this launch of the decade for road safety in our country. You may recall that the World Health Day in 2004 recognized road traffic injuries and deaths as a health problem. 

 

This development caused various Governments to seriously consider the multifaceted nature of risks associated with traffic crashes. It is in this light that many of the victims who happen to be fatally injured end up in health facilities. 

We are aware of the ever-increasing costs to both Government and families associated with that. Equally, the long term consequences of the critically injured are unbearable.

 

As the launch of the decade for road safety calls for action, I   am inclined in conclusion to urge the entire nation to become active promoters of road safety both at individual and organizational levels.  Let us all demonstrate commitment towards the attainment of the goals of the Decade of Action for Road Safety in Botswana within the period 2011 to 2020 and beyond.

 

At this juncture, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me invite the Minister of Health, Honourable Reverent Dr. John Seakgosing to declare our commitment to the Decade of Action for Road Safety.    I therefore declare the 2011 – 2020 decade of action for road safety officially launched in Botswana.    

 

Pula!   Bagaetsho.

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