25 August 2009

Sierra Leone: 'Road Traffic Injuries Now a Threat' - Says Deputy Minister of Transport

Freetown — Deputy minister of transport and aviation has affirmed in Freetown that road traffic injuries were becoming a serious growing public health issue that needs urgent attention.

Osmond Hanciles told his audience at the Sierra Leone road transport authority, SLRTA management retreat that road traffic issues need the adoption of a scientific approach that entails the provision of good data that must be collected and collated by trained personnel all over the country.

"Road safety efforts must be evidence-based, fully costed, properly resourced and sustainable. The SLRTA should ensure that our road users are assured of safety at all times," he said.

He said research has shown that the economic costs of road crashes among the least developed countries like Sierra Leone is estimated at $6.5 billion, an amount that is greater than what these countries receive in the form of annual development assistance.

Hanciles said recent efforts of the authority which are evident by their road safety billboards springing up all over the country need to be commended.

"The authority should move away from the traditional thinking of working with the police, motor drivers union and passenger welfare bodies. I suggest the inclusion of other institutions like parliament, insurance companies, SLAJ, the bar association and medical and dental association," he maintained.

SLRTA's executive director, Dr. Sarah Bendu said the vision of the authority was to deliver to the people goods and services that make road transportation modern, safe and more efficient through a better regulation.

"We believe that efficient road transport services are essential for the enhancement of standards of living and improvement in the country's economy," she noted.

The chief director said the retreat sought to bring out policies of best practices in dealing with stakeholders in the road transport sector, noting that at the end of the retreat, they would have generated ideas for development of a new management focus geared towards improved performance.

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