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Addl. $7.8b needed to halve fatalities: WB

Road crashes

FE REPORT | February 23, 2020 00:00:00

Bangladesh needs to invest an additional amount of $7.8 billion over the next decade to halve its road crash fatalities, according to a new World Bank (WB) report.

The report titled "Delivering Road Safety in Bangladesh" was released on Thursday in conjunction with the Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm, the WB said in a statement on Friday.

It pointed out the high death rate on Bangladesh's roads caused by chronic lack of investment in systemic, targeted, and sustained road safety programmes. It identified relevant investment priorities to reverse the trend.

The report also said annual road crash deaths per capita in Bangladesh are twice the average rate for high-income countries and five times that of the best performing countries in the world.

The WB in its report highlighted that children and working age population are most affected by road crash injuries in Bangladesh.

In 2017, road accidents became the fourth leading cause of death for children from the ninth leading cause of death in 1990.

The report called for a new focus on safe road infrastructure design that meets the needs of all road users and vehicle types - animals, pedestrians, bicycles, rickshaws, motorcycles, motorized three-wheelers, cars, minibuses, buses, mini trucks, trucks, and agricultural vehicles.

A human-centered, rather than a purely vehicle-centered focus is required, with a rebalancing of 'right-of-place' and 'right-of-way' road functions, it added. The WB emphasized the need to focus on regional trade corridors where crashes are significant, and roads are unsafe.

All categories of road users and vehicle types -- animals, pedestrians, bicycles, rickshaws, motorcycles, motorized three-wheelers, cars, minibuses, buses, mini trucks, trucks, and agricultural vehicles -- are represented in these corridors with narrow lanes, limited or no shoulders, and inadequate pedestrian facilities, according to the report.

"Years of rapid economic growth in South Asia, followed by a steep rise in vehicle ownership have led to mounting traffic deaths and contributed to lost economic opportunities," said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Vice President for South Asia.

"South Asia's road safety crisis is unacceptable but preventable. The good news is that South Asian countries recognize the urgent need to protect their people, save lives, and sustain their journey toward greater prosperity. We at the World Bank stand ready to support their efforts."

"For Bangladesh, improving road safety is a national development priority, which will help the country boost economic growth," said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.

"Bangladesh must take urgent steps to address road safety and minimize this tragic loss of human capital."

The report is part of a broader study on road safety in South Asia's eastern subregion, comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal, that called for regional measures to make roads and vehicles safer, even while making national-level actions a top priority.

The eastern sub-region accounts for an estimated 86 per cent of South Asia's population, 92 per cent of its vehicles, and 87 per cent of its road crash fatalities.

To better monitor the effectiveness of road safety efforts, the report recommended a shared regional initiative to harmonize crash data management and analysis systems across South Asia.

Currently, South Asian countries are in varying stages of developing crash data and performance management systems that analyze the underlying factors behind each crash -- whether it was defective road infrastructure, faulty vehicle design or human error.

To complement these efforts and to facilitate more rapid and effective knowledge transfer, the report also suggested that South Asian countries join the proposed regional road safety observatory for Asia and the Pacific.

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