Our regular columnist and Anglophone Africa CORE Group Representative Brian Bilal Mwebaze is back with another feature on road safety happenings in Africa. This time he focuses on crashes in Africa with traffic cops and the wider need for road safety to be translated to the local level.
There is a long standing African story of the Lizard…heard about it? No? Oh dear!
Anyway, the Agama Lizard one afternoon decided to sun-chill on a rock that stood in the middle of a lake. History was written when a hungry one-eyed Eagle hovered over. When the Lizard realized it was do or die, it learnt to swim instantly taking a 90 degree plung-dive not even Michael Phelps could dare in his prime. He survived…but this only remains a story. This however is not a story.
Between March & May 2018, 2 Traffic Police Personnel were knocked dead in Kampala, 1 was knocked and killed in Naivasha and another was knocked and killed in Limpopo. So, we humans have this obsession with numbers: But this is outrageous! Why did these folks have to die? Humans have used the road from inception at fertilization stage when the sperm cell meets the ovum (Sorry for the science) but I kid you not. Humans are mobile creatures and most importantly depend on each other. These 4 humans are not any different from me and you. In addition to carrying red blood cells within their bodies, they played a physical, economic, social, cultural, religious role in the lives of their families, pets, employers and country.
The FIA Foundation in their Report popularized on social media under the hashtag #walkthetalk #WHA71 #ITF18 state that “There is a fatal disconnect in global policy on child & adolescent health. Our new report calls for urgent action from the international community, including a first ever UN Special Summit on Child & Adolescent Health”.
It gets rather personal when the same Report states that 350,000 Children and Adolescents are killed annually by road traffic crashes or Urban outdoor air pollution. Millions more children experience life changing injuries or long lasting health problems arising from physical inactivity.
Let me bring you up to speed. Coined under the theme: Unfinished Journey: The Global Health Response to Children & Road Traffic highlights the gap between evidence on the scale of road traffic’s impact on child and adolescent health and the action. It argues for integrating road traffic injury prevention, air pollution and child NCDs into the UN’s ‘Every Woman, Every Child’ health strategy; sets out the many health and environmental benefits that can accrue from achieving child-friendly health streets in cities across the world; and calls for a first ever UN Summit on Child & Adolescent Health to give momentum to this policy agenda.
Well, at least, we can see this at the global level but this has to be localized as well. If our traffic officers are being killed, who will help children to cross the ill-lit traffic-full roads? Who will help the elderly and people living with special needs use our unforgiving roads? Who will scare the mean boda boda cyclists who freely colonize pedestrian walkways (where they exist) and miss hitting road users by a butt-hair’s breadth. A uniformed traffic corp in broad day light knocked and killed on the road is an indicator of very many road safety concerns and it’s more of a disaster for to a local person than it looks on TV or in a local newspaper. By the hand of Zeus, we can and should do better as soon as now!
In response to a growing global concern, to our lives and the lives of others, perhaps the Agama Lizard has the right approach. We have to try things beyond our comfort zone to survive.