To continue its robust growth, Bangladesh must take urgent steps to improve road safety, said World Bank Vice President for South Asia Region, Hartwig Schafer, as he concluded a two-day visit to the country with the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt.
Today, they attended the ‘Road Safety for All’ event in Dhaka. The road safety crisis has become a global epidemic comparable to diseases such as Malaria, Tuberculosis or HIV. Globally, about 1.35 million people die every year in road accidents, and more than one-fourth of these fatalities are estimated to happen in South Asia. The road safety situation in Bangladesh is particularly concerning: in the last two decades, increase in the road crash fatality rate per capita was three times higher the average in the South Asia region.
“Apart from enormous human toll, poor road safety can undermine a country’s growth and development,” said Schafer. “But, road accidents are largely preventable and the time to act is now. The World Bank and the United Nations together stand ready to support Bangladesh to improve road safety.”
Many countries around the world have reversed the trend through adopting a safe system approach that includes Safer roads, Safer vehicles, Safer behavior, Strong governance, and Post-crash health care.
“Under the leadership of Honorable Prime Minister H. E. Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is determined to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of cutting 50 percent of the number of road traffic fatalities within the next decade. We are confident that the goal set by our Prime Minister will definitely be accomplished with the close cooperation and coordination by all the citizens of Bangladesh,” said Finance Minister, Government of Bangladesh, A H M Mustafa Kamal, who joined the ‘Road Safety for All’ event as Chief Guest.
“Road crashes are the fourth leading cause of death of children aged between 5 and 14, and 67 percent victims are within the 15-49 age group in Bangladesh. The economic and human cost of the untimely deaths and injuries are immense,” said Todt. “Yet we see tremendous opportunity through the commitment that the Government has shown and we look forward to working together for better road safety.”
At the event, the World Bank and the UN jointly launched a video competition ‘Road Safety Champions’ soliciting solutions to make Dhaka roads safer. The competition is for the Bangladeshi youth between 18- to 23-years old. The details of the competition are available at www.worldbank.org/Bangladesh.
During the visit, Schafer and Todt met with the Finance Minister, Road Transport and Bridges Minister, and other senior government officials of Bangladesh.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then, the World Bank has committed more than $30 billion in grants, interest-free, and concessional credits to the country.