by — Christine Maema
“56 people die in road crash at Fort Ternan in Kericho, Kenya”, “29 pupils die in bus accident in Arusha, Tanzania”, “Limpopo accident leaves 26 dead”, “8 killed in a road accident on Red Sea road, Egypt”
These are some of the headlines used in the last year across the African continent to report the devastating news of road accidents.
But these are not just mere numbers, each represents a human life lost on a road somewhere in Africa. And according to the World Health Organization (W.H.O) every one of those deaths was preventable.
The headlines above represent just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to the actual numbers of how many lives have been lost on the African roads.
According to a report, ‘the Global Status on Road Safety’, Africa’s roads are the world’s deadliest with a road traffic deaths rate of 26.6 per 100,000 people. The Americas and Europe have the lowest rates of 15.6 and 9.3 deaths per 100,000 population respectively.
The report also states that no African country except South Africa meets any of the UN’s seven main vehicle safety standards some of which include; seat-belt regulations to ensure that seat-belts are fitted in vehicles during manufacture and assembly and that seat-belt anchorages can withstand the impact of a crash, anti-lock braking devices to prevent wheels from locking during braking and installation of electronic stability control to prevent skidding and loss of control when a driver over or understeers.
The risk of dying in a road traffic crash is more than 3 times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries. W.H.O attributes the reasons behind this to; Lax enforcement of traffic rules, often due to corruption, poor road conditions and lack of pedestrian infrastructure such as pavements and crossings.
In Kenya, fatalities as of April 11th 2019 increased by 24.57% at a total of 3767compared to the same time last year where a total of 3024 fatalities were recorded by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA). According to the statistics, pedestrians recorded the most number of fatalities at a total of 339.
Road traffic deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility,’ says W.H.O Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
So what needs to be done?
It is the Fifth UN Global Road Safety Week (6-12 May 2019) and thousands of road safety advocates from around the world are highlighting the need for more effective leadership for road safety. Strong leaders – both government and nongovernment alike – are those who #SpeakUp for road safety and act on the concrete interventions which have proven to save lives.
WHO Director, Dr Etienne Krug, says that “The issue of road traffic accidents is a problem with proven solutions. Governments and their partners must demonstrate leadership and accelerate action to save lives by implementing what works.”
In line with ‘what works’, W.H.O listed some of the solutions to road safety such as:
1. Increasing motorcycle helmet use – Best practice for motorcycle helmet laws includes a requirement for drivers and passengers to wear a helmet on all roads.
2. Wearing a seat-belt reduces the risk of death among drivers and front seat occupants by 45–50%, and the risk of death and serious injuries among rear seat occupants by 25%
3. Use of child restraints can lead to at least a 60% reduction in deaths, best practice criteria for child restraint laws include a requirement to place children at least until ten years of age or 135 cm in height in a child restraint; a restriction to seating children in the front seat; and a reference to a safety standard for child restraints.
Research has shown that improvements to road infrastructure, particularly design standards that take into account the safety of all road users, are critical to making roads safe.
During a UN global forum on road safety awareness, it was said that road safety receives 1,000 times less mentions than other causes with similar fatality rates like AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. In this year’s Road Safety Week, #SpeakUp for road safety in your country, and call for urgent action on road safety interventions which could save lives.
UN offers to help catch Mali jihadists behind amputations
UN peacekeepers in Mali on Thursday offered to help bring to justice jihadists behind the amputation of suspected thieves’ hands and feet, an apparent revival of a practice that had all but vanished.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, local sources in Tin-Hama in eastern Mali said armed men drummed up a crowd on May 2, a market day, and cut the right hands and left feet off three men they paraded as thieves.
The gunmen are believed to have belonged to Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), one of the main jihadist groups active in the Sahel region, the UN’s Minusma force said in a statement.
“This kind of corporal punishment carried out by armed groups outside of any legal order is a serious infringement of human rights,” Minusma chief El-Ghassim Wade said.
UN forces stand ready to “support continuing enquiries by Malian authorities to fight impunity and ensure that the perpetrators of these acts are brought to justice,” he added.
Minusma also said it was deploying “significant security resources in the affected areas to step up protection of populations”.
The amputations “recall the horrors of the 2012 crisis” when jihadists and Touareg rebels took control of much of Mali’s north, the UN statement added.
At the time, various jihadist groups conducted public amputations, stonings, floggings and executions in major northern cities under their hardline interpretation of Islamic law.
Since 2012, jihadist insurgents have spread across Mali’s centre and into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, with thousands killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the violence.
UN, African and French forces have failed to put an end to the insurgency.
Unidentified men killed one soldier when they attacked a Malian anti-terrorist unit near Tominian in the country’s centre late Wednesday, while the troops killed three of the assailants, a security official said on condition of anonymity.
IPOB backs new directive by Cameroon’s Anglophone separatist leader
Nigerian Biafra separatist group— Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has backed the May 20 directive to “stay at home” from Cameroon’s Anglophone separatist leader, Dr Cho Ayaba.
Ayaba, the leader of Ambazonia, ordered a lockdown on May 20, 2021 in the English-speaking region of Cameroon, saying it was to mark the day that Cameroonian government forces began killing civilians in the region.
“The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, under the global command of our Leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, hereby, directs all Biafrans living in Ambazobia to fully comply with the directive. Biafra and Ambazobia share a lot in common, and we are prepared to give them all the necessary support and solidarity in their struggle for independence,” said IPOB in a statement issued on Monday.
The Biafra group, in the statement signed by its spokesperson, Emma Powerful, further said, it “urge all Biafrans living in Ambazobia to close shop on May 20, and remain indoors in full compliance with the sit-at-home order by the leader of our sister country. We equally advise all Biafrans intending to travel to Ambazonia on that day to shelve the trip until after the exercise. Biafra and Ambazobia have enjoyed a robust relationship in our struggle for self determination.
“Ambazobia has adopted 20th of May every year in honour of the victims of the genocidal killings in Ambazonia by the terrorist Republic of Cameroun. This was the day the Paul Biya-led murderous regime in Camaroun launched military onslaught and occupation of Ambazonia.
“The genocidal killing was however, challenged four years ago through stiff resistance and great sacrifices by patriotic Ambazonians. Consequently, the people of Ambazonia have decided to henceforth, observe 20th of May as a day to commemorate the Resistance and defeat of their enemy, the Cameroonian forces.
“We equally note with delight, the directive by the leadership of the Ambazonian liberation movement to all Ambazonians, to observe May 31 Biafra Remembrance Day sit-at-home order in honour of our fallen heroes. This show of solidarity between both countries is amazing, and will be sustained until and even after our independence is realised. Both countries shall continue to explore other opportunities to promote peaceful cooperation and regional security and economic advancement.”
Eid: Buhari asks Nigerians to pray against insecurity
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday called on citizens to unite and pray against the insecurity ravaging the country.
The president made the appeal in a message to Muslims around the world as they marked Eid Al Fitr after the completion of a month of fasting.
According to Garba Shehu, the president’s senior special assistant on media and publicity, he said;“Unity and solidarity among all citizens, Muslims and Christians are imperative especially at a time when our country is faced with multiple challenges which are surmountable only when we come together as one.
“It is important that we remember how we share, through our faiths, common bonds that should serve to unite us and not allow ourselves to succumb to those who seek to divide us, using our two great religions, for their own selfish advantages.
“We should jointly pray against the tragic incidents of kidnapping and banditry and the desperate quest for political power expressed through blackmail against the existence of our country as a united entity.
“We must resist the temptation to retreat into our communities. I urge our political and religious leaders as well as traditional rulers to encourage our citizens to turn towards one another in love and compassion.”
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