UN envoy pushes road safety agenda

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

UN envoy pushes road safety agenda
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona converses with United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety Mr Jean Todt on his arrival at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare yesterday. – Picture: Innocent Makawa

Freeman Razemba

Senior Reporter

United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Mr Jean Todt, yesterday arrived in Zimbabwe as part of the country’s commitment to co-operation under the United Nations system, and to the adoption of international best practices and standards on road safety.

Government is in the process of revising legislation, rules and regulations to come up with stiffer penalties for motorists who cause fatal road traffic accidents as a result of negligent driving and human error.

Mr Todt is a former rally driver and ex-chief executive of Formula One team, Ferrari.

Thereafter, he was appointed as Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General, where he has distinguished himself over the years.

Mr Todt, who recently visited East Africa to advocate the effective implementation of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, which aims to halve the number of victims on the road by 2030, said he was willing to work with Government and the private sector on road safety.

“I have just come from Nairobi (Kenya) and before that I was in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and I did a tour in East Africa to speak with the government, with the UN organisation, with the private sector because unfortunately we know that East Africa is a vulnerable area for road safety,” he said.

Mr Todt had always been impressed by the will of the Zimbabwean Government to put road safety on top of their agenda.

He said he will also work hand-in-hand with the private sector in the country and urged the media to play a pivotal role to put road safety on their priority list.

“We know that significant progress can be done, so we need to educate people, we need to make sure that everybody puts a proper helmet when driving or being a passenger on a motor bike, buckling safety belts in front and rear or a motor vehicle,” said Mr Todt. 

“Don’t drink and drive; don’t text and drive; and avoid speeding and if we are able to progress on those topics we will be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals which is to halve the number of victims on the road by 2030.

“A lot of work has to be done and I really count on my visit together with the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development and also with the President of Zimbabwe to speak on this important topic and with other members of the government and also with the private sector.” 

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona said his ministry’s experts were in the process of revising legislation to mitigate road carnage.

“I will start on the last point that was mentioned by Special Envoy Mr Jean Todt, that we need to observe the rules and regulations when it comes to road use,” he said. 

“And I am happy to say that at this juncture, as a nation, Zimbabwe, we are happy and delighted that the engagement and re-engagement process that are going on as a result of the mantra of His Excellency (President Mnangagwa) that we are open to anyone who is willing to do business with us. 

“I am delighted in the sense that now at this juncture, you know that we have been racing against time to make sure that we also have Statutory Instruments to mitigate the road carnage. 

“And I am happy that the Special Envoy here will address some of the concerns of the nation, where we are saying in terms of what we can do to reduce road carnage.

“His visit is very important for Zimbabweans so that as we then debate and negotiate and see how we can tap into the United Nations Road Safety Fund. 

“I am sure that it is also very important as a nation to say what can we do so that we reduce the carnage that we are witnessing. But above all the engagement process that is underway is something that is of great importance.”

In February this year, Minister Mhona met Mr Todt on the sidelines of the meeting of the 85th Inland Transport Committee in Geneva where they discussed practical ways of sharing and adopting international good practices and standards on road safety.

The two also discussed various topics, principally measures to strengthen their institutional capacity and review policy and legislative frameworks for effective road traffic management and regulation for secure and safe roads.

The meeting was also said to have focused on the technical assistance being extended to Zimbabwe to improve various aspects of road safety.

Last year, the UN funded the Zimbabwe Road Safety Performance Review and the visit by Mr Todt is a key signal that the UN system would be following through not only to assess progress, but also to fund the process.

Enjoyed this post? Share it!