Africa’s Roads Need To Be Made Safer
Kim Lewis, VOA News
14 August 2010
Africa’s Roads Are Becoming More Dangerous With The Increase of Traffic and New Motorways
Up to 40 people may have been killed in the accident August 15th on one of Nigeria’s busiest roadways near Lagos. An out-of-control truck crashed into dozens of vehicles and burst into flames.
The total death toll has not been confirmed but in addition to the deaths, dozens more were injured.
The brakes of the truck failed as it was coming down a slope, causing it to crash into vehicles waiting at a police checkpoint on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
Fatal traffic crashes are common in Nigeria, where many roads are decades old and pitted with potholes and where drivers often don’t obey traffic laws.
The British charity the FIA Foundation sees road safety as a huge problem in Africa. The organization funds the campaign for global road safety. Its policy manager, Avi Silverman, explained why many roads on the continent are unsafe.
“We’re getting into a situation where motorization is increasing in Africa. The number of cars on the roads is increasing. The number of roads being constructed is increasing at an incredibly rapid rate. The problem is there aren’t really adequate safety measures that are being put into these roads being built. So all of the safety measures that we take for granted in the U-S and Europe really aren’t adequately being put in Africa. The result is with the growing numbers of cars and growing number of roads, we’re seeing an increasing number of unfortunately, road deaths and injuries,” said Silverman.
Among some of the top countries in Africa with frequent road deaths involving multiple numbers of people is Nigeria.
“Nigeria is towards the top of the list. It’s actually quite difficult to put a list together in terms of the worst examples of road safety in Africa. The reason is--- the actual reporting of the data in many developing countries in Africa and elsewhere in the world. It is very difficult to get accurate data. It has been widespread recognition that the level of reporting is often very much under-reported in terms of the numbers of people being killed and injured. So you get a country like Nigeria where the official figures are very bad, but the real situation could be worse that the figures suggest,” explained Silverman.
The same holds true in other high multiple road death places such as Egypt, Kenya and South Africa where there are more cars on the roads and more roads being built.
“That is why we need to get key safety measures put into place at a systematic approach to road safety in these countries, “said Silverman.
These types of accidents are not being over-looked. A lot of research and attention in being devoted to road safety particularly in developed countries. Silverman says his organization would like to see the same devotion paid towards developing nations.
“We want to see basic safety measures such as crossing points for children that often you don’t see on a new road being built in Africa. I’ve just been to Kenya, and a new road had just been built a few months ago and there wasn’t anywhere where pedestrians could cross the road. And there wasn’t anywhere where a proper pavement had been built to make sure pedestrians were kept safe from the traffic. So you have people walking to work in the early hours of the morning who were just walking on the road in very poor lighting with fast moving traffic right next to them. Really, that’s just a recipe for disaster,” said Silverman.
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