Working in transport for development, our focus is often on the physical infrastructure that is needed to improve mobility and provide access to services and markets. Road safety is an issue that obliges us to focus on our clients: the young and vulnerable users of road networks around the world.
At least 46 people were killed and more than 200 injured in 31 road accidents across the country in the last four days including the three-day Eid holiday --- The Daily Star, November 10th 2011.
There has been an alarming rise in road accidents, significantly highway accidents, in Bangladesh over the past few years. According to a study conducted by the Accident Research Centre (ARC) of BUET, road accidents claim on average 12,000 lives annually and lead to about 35,000 injuries. According to World Bank statistics, annual fatality rate from road accidents is found to be 85.6 fatalities per 10,000 vehicles. Hence, the roads in Bangladesh have become deadly!
But these statistics, numerically shocking as they may be, fail to reflect the social tragedy related to each life lost to road accidents. One accident that remains afresh in my memory is the death of 44 school children last July, after the truck they were travelling in skid and fell into a pond. 44 young dreams and hopes lost due to reckless driving. Only a month after this tragedy, Bangladesh lost two brilliant citizens, filmmaker Tareq Masud and journalist Mishuk Munier, to yet another road accident in August.
Transport planning in MENA and other regions does not routinely address gender issues and sex disaggregated data is limited as is gender and transport expertise. In the MENA region, as in many other developing regions, women’s mobility is constrained by limited transport supply and also by social factors that can reduce the access of women to economic opportunities and voice in local decision-making.
For those of us anxiously awaiting the new edition of the World Bank’s leading publication, the World Development Report (WDR) each year, this year’s edition does not disappoint. Credit should be given to the team of the ‘WDR2012: Gender Equality and Development’ team for successfully moving their analysis from skepticism to the elaboration of a sensible analytical framework focused on aspects of gender equa
One example discussed in a recent event held at World Bank offices in Washington DC concerned an innovative technology solution in the aviation sector, which could reduce global CO2 emissions by 14 million tons!
Roads are not sexy. You don’t see glossy ads pleading for people to sponsor a road. You don’t see the construction of a road moving global audiences to tears. There are no celebrities, concerts, wrist-bands for the road. I guess that is because for most people in the developed world, we take roads for granted.
Recently I spent some time around Kerema, which although only 350 km from the country’s capital, feels as one of the most remote and cut-off places in Papua New Guinea. Kerema is the Gulf’s provincial capital and, with its surrounding villages, it has been cut-off from the rest of the country due to a mere 67 km of mostly un-passable road. Under the Roads Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project, the World Bank has been supporting the Government of Papua New Guinea to restore the road. Today, the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the second phase of this project, which will see the rest of the road restored and paved to a proper national standard.
The World Bank employs a variety of specialists in different disciplines, often with abstract and hard to understand titles. Not me. When people ask what I do for the Bank I say “I build roads”. This often brings laughs from other Bank staff, but it’s true.
Much in the same way the Ford Model T revolutionized transportation in the United States and the Volkswagen Beetle did in Germany, the Tata Nano (small in Gujarati) seeks to do the same for India and the rest of the developing world, with millions still seeking to realize dreams of four wheel mobility. Will the Nano become a resounding success and revolutionize the concept and accessibility of the car, or will it cause increased problems and growing pains in its mission to provide transportation to the broader public?
With a price starting at $2,200 dollars including taxes and fees, the Nano significantly undercuts the current cheapest car in India by almost half and may open the door to aspiring drivers around the world as the most affordable automobile in history (when accounting for inflation). The market potential is seemingly unlimited as only 0.7% of Indians owned automobiles in 2007.
However, economic development has already caused an explosion in the number of motor vehicles perpetuating increased fatalities due to accidents, standstill traffic, and smog filled cityscapes.
Its founder, Ratan Tata says that his inspiration is derived from poignantly watching the way entire families are transported on motorcycles complete with a rider, passenger, along with two children hanging onto the back. He noted the terrible toll in road deaths involving two-wheelers and called for a safer four-wheeled vehicle that will transport families in a dignified manner.