The Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) has reselected the city of Accra to benefit from the second phase of road safety support to prevent road traffic deaths over a six-year period.
Accra was reselected in February this year as one of 30 cities in 15 countries to benefit from Bloomberg Philanthropies $240 million commitment during the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Stockholm, Sweden, to help prevent road traffic deaths over a six-year period spanning 2020 to 2025.
Speaking during a virtual meeting to officially kick off the initiative on Wednesday, Chief Executive of Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Mohammed Adjei Sowah, expressed his appreciation to the Bloomberg Philanthropies for the continuous technical support in the area of road safety adding that the first phase of the initiative contributed immensely to the reduction of road crashes in the city.
He mentioned that some successes chalked during the first phase of the initiative include the launch of two Road Safety Reports for AMA, a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, Accra’s 1st Road Safety Strategy, the formation of a 13-member Road Safety Council and a task force to intensify enforcement of the four risk factors namely speeding, drink driving, helmet wearing and seatbelt wearing/child restraints.
Others he said were road safety enhancement works at the Lapaz intersection which saw an increase in the pedestrian signal timing, lowering of kerbs where pedestrians cross the road to ensure unimpeded and safe pedestrian flow, replacement of damaged crash barriers as well as a mass media campaign titled "School Girl" carried out in 2019 to crown the 5-year road safety works with BIGRS which reached nearly 1 million people, according to a post-campaign evaluation.
Mr Sowah noted that although the initiative had saved nearly 312,000 lives and prevented up to 11.5 million injuries since 2007, there was more to be done as some 1.3 million people were killed in road crashes every year globally.
" Over 1.3 million people are killed in road crashes every year globally, with another 20-50 million people sustaining severe and often debilitating injuries. Unfortunately, we aren’t immune to this tragedy. In Ghana, there were approximately six road traffic deaths recorded every day in 2016. Accra’s roads saw 1,812 crashes in 2018 alone. Of all the victims of traffic crashes, pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists made up 84% of those who died on the roads in 2018," he said.
Touching on the legalisation of motorcycle popularly called "Okada" for commercial purposes the Mayor said its legalization would pose a serious public health threat to the city of Accra and the country.
"The okada business may be serving a public transport need but regrettably, a majority of them ride recklessly, speed above the legal limit, and disregard safety and other road regulations, thus, contributing to an increase in injuries and deaths, " he said adding that he challenges with enforcement and regulation of existing public transport modes give an indication of problems likely to be encountered if the use of okada was legalised.
Representatives of Ministry f Transport, the National Road Safety Authority Bloomberg Philanthropies, Vital Strategies Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), World Resource Institute (WRI), Johns Hopkins University International Injury Research Unit (JHUIIRU), Global Health Advocacy Incubator as well as World Health Organization (WHO) participated in the virtual kick-off meeting.
This third phase of BIGRS, which begins this year and lasts six years, include the participation of cities in Ghana, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Uganda, and Vietnam, among others.
Currently, enrolled cities include Accra and Kumasi (Ghana), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Bogota (Colombia), Guadalajara (Mexico), Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Kampala (Uganda), Mumbai, Bengaluru and New Delhi (India), in addition to São Paulo, Salvador and Recife (Brazil).