Cameroon experiences over 16,000 road crashes yearly, UN report
The UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Road Safety – Mr. Jean Todt has unveiled the Cameroon Road Safety Performance Review Report jointly commissioned with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), which urges the country to take critical steps to curtail the number of people dying and suffering from injuries resulting from road crashes, in tandem with the targets of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.
The report says about 1,500 persons die from over 16,000 road crashes yearly in Cameroon since the launch of the Decade, providing the reasons for this trend and recommending major actions to reverse it.
According to the publication, although Cameroon has significantly reduced crashes on its roads within this period, mostly resulting from better performances in urban spaces, there is quite a lot of effort to be made to hit the 50 per cent reduction target envisaged by the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety.
In addition, the country has fulfilled 37.5 per cent of safety measures prescribed in the context of the Decade.
In spite of what Mr Todt classified as “Cameroon’s leadership and openness” to cooperate to roll back road accidents, three major issues have impeded progress with meeting the targets of the Decade:
Cameroon is yet to systematically apply its good national road safety framework underpinned by a well-articulated national road safety strategy in 2009, also characterized by good laws, decrees, circulars and treaties which cover issues ranging from speed limits, rules against drunk-driving, rules against mobile phone use while driving, etc.;
The country also has a challenge in managing road safety effectively especially in terms of coordination of efforts through a National Lead Agency (a practice that has produced great results elsewhere); and,
Cameroon, like many African countries, lacks a fully functional central road safety data collection, treatment and dissemination system, which is a major inhibitor to evidence-based decision making.
The report proposes ways of overcoming these main challenges notably by: quickening the ongoing effort to establish a database at Cameroon’s National School of Public Works and to align the database with the minimum set of road safety indicators being compiled by the African Transport Policy Programme and ECA; accelerating the process of designating a Lead Road Safety Agency; and commissioning high-level Road Safety political champions to lead the struggle for in the country.
Speaking on behalf of Ms Vera Songwe – UN Undersecretary General and Executive Secretary of ECA, Mr Antonio Pedro who Heads ECA’s Central Africa office said “by championing the full implementation of the recommendations of the report that we are launching today, the authorities in Cameroon can demonstrate that the country supports road safety measures, notably the enforcement of traffic rules” adding that ECA was ready to continue its collaboration with the UN Special Envoy and other partners in supporting Cameroon and African countries in general to improve the safety of their roads.
This includes strengthening relevant data and statistical systems, supporting countries in aligning national policies, laws and regulations with international standards and conventions, mobilizing the private sector to strengthen vehicle safety testing on the continent and improving the quality of helmets for motorbikes as well as engaging international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the AfDB to mainstream road safety issues in the design and construction of roads and other infrastructure.