Addis Ababa — Road accidents claimed over 5000 lives in Ethiopia during the 2017/2018 fiscal year. Related property damage is estimated at $31 million for the same period. This is according to the Ethiopian National Road Safety Council.
It is against this backdrop that a United Nations initiative to enhance road safety kicked off in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 16 May 2019 with a focus on reviewing the country's road safety performance.
"This will greatly help speed-up our efforts to reduce fatalities," said Gashaw Tenna, a senior adviser to Ethiopia's transport minister, adding "we need road safety performance review to contextually link our day to day traffic control endeavors with high-level plans."
The meeting was held under the auspices of the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Road Safety in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the government of Ethiopia.
The Special Envoy's Programme Management Officer, Priti Gautam, thanked the Ethiopian transport ministry for requesting the performance review, noting that the exercise was being done in Ethiopia because:
"It's located in a continent that suffers from the highest rate of road traffic fatalities in the world and Ethiopia ranks 22nd globally - which is high - and, especially, because the government has shown interest and willingness to make a difference in road safety."
The importance of the road safety performance review was highlighted by Robert Lisinge, Chief of ECA's Energy, Infrastructure and Services Section, who chaired the session.
"We want to avoid a case of unintended consequences whereby the story of Ethiopia's economic growth - with accompanying infrastructure development and increased car ownership - is eroded by increased road accidents and deaths."
Commenting on what ECA brings to the table, Mr. Lisinge said the Commission has been at the forefront of road safety since the 1980s.
"ECA was instrumental in developing the Africa Road Safety Action Plan and the African Road Safety Charter. We've done performance reviews on other countries, including Uganda and Cameroon. So, we understand what the challenges in undertaking road safety reviews are and we are ready to bring that experience to Ethiopia."
Issues related to data, road safety audits, inspections, and stakeholder coordination were amongst the problem-areas identified during the inception meeting, which brought together representatives of Ethiopia's ministries of transport, health and education, EC And ECE.
The review exercise will result in a report that will be launched and handed over to the government of Ethiopia.