World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region, Hartwig Schafer, and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Road Safety, Jean Todt, are scheduled to arrive in Dhaka on Monday.
They will discuss the challenges and opportunities to improve road safety in Bangladesh.During the two-day visit, they will meet the finance minister, roads transport and bridges minister, other senior government officials, and civil society representatives.
Schafer and Todt will also participate in the ‘Road Safety for All’ event in Dhaka on September 24, which is part of the South Asia Regional Program on Road Safety that includes Bangladesh.
“Road accidents are life-shattering experiences for families. Apart from the enormous human toll, road safety has a major economic impact; globally, annual crash-related costs are estimated at 2 to 5 percent of national Gross Domestic Product,” said Schafer.
“I welcome this partnership between the United Nations and the World Bank in support of countries, like Bangladesh, to make traffic safer and help accelerate growth, reduce poverty and promote shared prosperity.”
Road safety is a global development challenge. Every year, 1.35 million people worldwide lose their lives while driving, cycling, or walking on the road and another 50 million are seriously injured.
A recent World Bank study has shown that for South Asia as a whole, a 50 percent reduction in road deaths would generate an estimated gross benefit of about $1.2 trillion.“Along with the World Bank, I look forward to a productive discussion with our partners in Bangladesh on the path for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of significantly cutting the number of road fatalities over the coming years,” said Todt.
“I call on Bangladesh to join and fully implement the key UN legal instruments on road safety, which can enable the country to address many major causes of road crashes.”
Last year, the death of two college students in road accident in Dhaka sparked protests for safer roads. Although the situation improved to some extent during the protests, it returned to its chaotic self a few days later.
In March this year, the death of an university student in another road accident rekindled road safety movement but the situation has improved little.
Earlier this month, Road Transport Minister obaidul Quader said the government had formed a “powerful taskforce” to restore discipline on roads and highways, and reduce accidents.
The World Bank and the United Nations are offering the countries a number of tools and support modalities to tackle road safety problems.
This includes consideration in the upcoming call for proposals of the recently established UN Road Safety Fund, as well as technical support in the accession to the UN legal instruments related to road safety, administered by UNECE.