African Road Infrastructure and Safety experts are meeting in Accra from Tuesday, 4thJune 2013 to validate two documents setting up minimum standards for roads covered under the Trans African Highway Network and a Charter for improving road safety in the continent where road crashes impact significantly on socio economic development, accounting for losses of nearly 2 per cent of GDP.
The draft Intergovernmental Agreement on the Trans-African Highway Network proposes minimum standards for the development and maintenance of the 57,233km of roads under the network that connects the capitals of African countries and the main centres of production and consumption in order to bolster the physical, political, social and economic integration of the continent.
Experts from the ministries of works and infrastructure as well as their counterparts responsible for Transport and Safety are attending the workshop, the last validation process for the documents before submission to the third session of the African Union Conference of African Ministers of Transport scheduled to take place in Equatorial Guinea during the last quarter of 2013.
The draft agreement to be considered at the three day meeting is the outcome of various studies focusing on the areas of road standards and classification, road safety and design as well as the environmental and social issues connected with compliance.
From the date of its entry into force, Member States will be required under the agreement to ensure that existing routes of the network under their domain comply with these standards during a window of 10 years while those under construction have 15 years for compliance.
At 3.6 km of road per 1,000 persons, Africa’s road network lags behind the global average of 7.6 km per 1,000 persons and the current emphasis on the harmonisation of standards through the Agreement and other continental initiatives such as the implementation of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) are intended to help stimulate improvements in the continents road infrastructure.
The counterpart African Road Safety Charter is expected to serve as a policy framework for road safety improvement in Africa by stimulating country-level road safety policies at the national level, engender national, regional and continental road safety programmes, contribute to better coordination of road safety and promote harmonisation of road safety data.
Member States will be required under the Charter to establish road safety lead agencies within three years with responsibility to provide policy advise and formulate and coordinate road safety strategies.
Such agencies will be required to develop and coordinate road safety management system that will include a comprehensive mine of information on vehicles and drivers, crashes, injuries and fatalities including intermediate issues such as seat belt compliance rates and the economic impact of road safety injuries.
The data is required to be robust, reliable and continently harmonised so that it can become an effective tool for planning, research and development as well as monitoring and evaluation.