Lilongwe City Mayor Councilor Richard Banda on Thursday became the first Mayor in Africa to sign the International Walking Charter in a show of commitment that Lilongwe city will ensure a more friendly mobility environment that is more conducive to pedestrians and cyclists to promote walking and cycling.
His Worship Banda signed the international walking charter at the Lilongwe Civic Centre during the commemoration of the 7th UN Global Road Safety Week (15-21 May 2023) activities that were organized by the Road Safety Alert Foundation (ROSAF), a local road safety advocacy civil society organization.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, the Malawi capital city Mayor said walking and cycling as well as using of public transport will help decongest the Lilongwe city; has a healthy benefit of keeping the city residents strong; and will also help reduce carbon emission from vehicles hence encouraged city residents to widely adopt walking, cycling and use of public transport as a new modern norm.
"This is why I feel honoured to join the Road Safety Alert Foundation (ROSAF) and the rest of the world to commemorate the 7th UN Global Road Safety Week, and sign The International Charter for Walking to register my commitment and the commitment of the Lilongwe City that we will promote walking and cycling the Malawi's capital city, Lilongwe," said Worship Banda.
He added that Lilongwe City will make sure that all roads that it is constructing right now are safe and inclusive especially to the Vulnerable Road User by making sure that the roads have segregated pathways for pedestrians and cycle ways for cyclists.
Speaking at the same function, Lilongwe City Council Chief Executive Officer Dr. McCloud Kadam'manja said he totally agreed with ROSAF that time has come for Lilongwe City Council to contribute to a conducive environment for walking and cycling so that the city is safer for all road users by supporting its council members in formulating policies that will transform Lilongwe into a city that speaks to the aspirations of the Malawi 2063 agenda.
"We want the capital city to be what everybody wants. To begin with we have highlighted issues to do with the road network improvement but we also want to add that even the existing roads that we have will be redesigned to make sure that it has these segregated pedestrian walkways and cycleways for cyclists," said Kadam'manja.
ROSAF Executive Director Joel Jere expressed gratitude to the Lilongwe City Mayor for signing the International Walking Charter saying it signifies that Lilongwe City is taking the right direction towards the fulfilment of the 2021-2030 UN Decade of Action for Road Safety which as part of achieving the target of reducing road crashes with 50% by the year 2030, calls for rethinking mobility by shifting to safe mobility of walking, cycling and the increased use of public transport.
"We are delighted that the Mayor of Lilongwe has chosen to sign the International Charter for Walking today. This is a historic event as our Mayor has become the first Mayor in Africa to sign this International Charter for Walking today.
"It demonstrates a commitment to building streets and cities that are not only suitable for people walking but safe and inviting as well.," said Jere adding that with the continent with the highest levels of walking but also a poor safety record, it is critical and timely to commit to making better places for walking.
UNGRSW is a biennial global road safety campaign hosted by WHO. It brings together individuals, governments, NGOs, corporations, and other organizations globally to raise awareness of road safety and make changes that will reduce the number of road deaths. The theme for this year's (7th) UNGRSW, is "Sustainable Development" with a slogan #RethinkMobility.