'Yet, we see tremendous opportunity through the commitment that the government has shown, and we look forward to working together for better road safety'
UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt has encouraged the Bangladesh government to apply for funding and avail maximum support from the recently established United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund (UNRSTF).
He made the call at a program, jointly organized by the government, the World Bank and the UN, in Dhaka on Wednesday.
As a UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund, UNRSTF was officially launched on April 12, 2018, with the aim to recognize the challenges on the roads around the world, address them and implement solutions.
Quoting a recent data, Jean Todt said road crashes were the fourth leading cause of death of children in Bangladesh. Mentioning that 67% of the victims were within 15-49 age group, he said: “The economic and human cost of the untimely deaths and injuries are immense.”
“Yet, we see tremendous opportunity through the commitment that the government has shown, and we look forward to working together for better road safety,” he added.
Todt said the UNRSTF was established last year to support the most affected countries and building natural road safety systems.
He said the first core advisory meeting is expected to be held next month. “And I encourage Bangladesh to apply for it.”
Hartwig Schafer, World Bank vice president for the South Asia region, said Bangladesh must take urgent steps to improve road safety in order to continue its robust growth.
“Apart from the enormous human toll, poor road safety can undermine a country’s growth and development,” he said. “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.”
Addressing the program, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said Bangladesh was determined to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of curbing road traffic fatalities by 50% within the next decade.
UNFPA Representative in Bangladesh Dr Asa Torkelsson said some progress has been made to achieve this SDG target by 2030, but the country will have to do more.
She also reiterated the UN’s support on this re-collective journey.
At the event, the dignitaries also kicked off a video competition, titled “Road Safety Champions,” soliciting solutions to make Dhaka’s roads safer.
The competition is for the Bangladeshi youth between 18 and 23 years of age. The details of the competition are available no www.worldbank.org/Bangladesh.
A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between the World Bank and the Accident Research Institute of BUET over the road safety issue.