Ministry of Communication launched a three years Road Safety Plan for National Highways & Motorways with an estimated cost of Rs 2.8 billion as a strategic guideline for identification of road safety deficiencies in Pakistan and respective mitigation for reduction in road casualties.
The road safety situation in Pakistan is alarming. The WHO 2015 report reveals that it is estimated that more than 25,000 road users are killed in mishaps every year. Furthermore, road safety is a sustainable development issue of serious concern, considering its magnitude and consequent negative impacts on the economy, public health and general welfare of the people, particularly low-income groups.
The economic cost of road crashes and injuries is estimated to be 1.5% of the GNP for middle-income countries, which is over Rs100 billion for Pakistan, revealed the Road Safety Plan.
The road safety plan is broadly divided into two categories:
- Hard Solution components which further comprised on revival of national road safety secretariat, black spot identification and its removal, treatment of high crash risk locations, road safety awareness campaigns, establishment of driving licensing authority, establishment of driver’s training institutions, construction of emergency response centres, technological solutions for user information and minor road safety treatments (retrofit, refurbish and install missing road furniture items);
- Soft Solution components which further included stakeholder consultations, enforcement of traffic rules, framing of traffic rules under NHSO 2000, maximising engagement through seminars, stakeholder consultations and trainings with road safety partners (police, other government entities, transporters, academia and construction professionals) and public complaint redress mechanism.
National Highways & Motorways Police (NH&MP) identified 170 black spots where soft solution was required. Eight-four black spots/ hazardous locations have also been identified where realignment/ geometrical change is required. The NH&MP are in constant liaison with NHA in updating information regarding identification of hazardous locations.
The NHA earmarked Rs 1.6 billion in fiscal years 2014-15 & 2015-16 in this regard and took measures, including soft solutions for removal of identified black spots. All these highway safety schemes are under procurement.
Furthermore, two hard road safety solutions as well as soft solutions had also been incorporated in AMP 2015-16 which were: remodelling/construction of Karappa Bridge, Rs191 million, geometric improvement/realignment of Speena Mor, Rs378 million, and additional soft safety solutions, Rs589 million.
For the year 2016/17, it is planned to select and treat the worst black-spot locations on national highways for safety improvements by expending an amount of Rs1 billion.
According to the plan, soaring number of fatalities on roads highlights the dire need to act urgently by adopting proactive measures in the rudimentary areas of engineering, enforcement, education and emergency management.
Ministry of Communications is actively striving for improvements within its own spheres of road engineering and enforcement but that is applicable to only 3.5% of total road network of Pakistan. It recommended that provincial governments may also develop such a plan for their road network so that the menace of road crashes in the country may be reduced.
The launching ceremony of National Road Safety Plan was held at National Highway Authority. Federal Secretary Communications/Chairman National Highway Authority, Shahid Ashraf Tarar, Senior Advisor Law, Wafaqi Mohtasib, Hafiz Ahsan Ahmed Khokhar, IG NH&MP Shaukat Hayat, Joint Secretary Ministry of Communications, Altaf Asghar and senior officers from Ministry of Communications and NHA, NH&MP and transport departments participated in the ceremony.
The salient features of the National Road Safety Plan include revival of National Road Safety Secretariat, black spot identification and its removal, treatment of high crash risk locations, road safety awareness campaigns, establishment of driving licensing authority, establishment of driver’s training institutions, construction of emergency response centres, technological solutions for user information, and minor road safety treatments.
A detailed briefing was also given on National Road Safety Plan.
Addressing the ceremony Shahid Ashraf Tarar said control of accidents on national highways and motorways is a challenge. It is satisfying that a National Road Safety Plan (NRSP) has been finalised with the consultation of all stakeholders. In order to check accidents, their causes require to be identified, so that precious gift of life could be preserved to every possible extent. The NHA will extend all support to reduce the menace of accidents on roads, he added.
Throwing light on functioning of the Wafaqi Mohtasib, Hafiz Ahsan Ahmed Khokhar said no considerable work was done in the field of road safety during previous years. It is encouraging, he said, that a NRSP has been chalked out with the cooperation of the stakeholders, which is being launched today. He said international quality motorways are being constructed in the country under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the need is to make international standard road safety arrangements on these motorways. He stressed upon the need for establishing close working relationship among the stakeholders of the National Road Safety Plan for achieving better results.
Expressing satisfaction over launching of National Road Safety Plan, Shaukat Hayat termed road accidents a social problem in which about 25,000 people are killed every year, besides economic loss. He assured that National Highway & Motorway Police will undertake concrete steps for controlling road crashes.