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World Bank okays $358 million fund to improve road safety in Bangladesh

The World Bank on Tuesday approved $358 million of financing to help Bangladesh improve road safety, reduce fatalities and injuries from road traffic crashes in selected high-risk highways and district roads.

In two national highways—N4 (Gazipur-Elenga) and N6 (Natore to Nawabganj)—the project will pilot comprehensive road safety measures, including improved engineering designs, signing and marking, pedestrian facilities, speed enforcement, emergency care.

These measures will help reduce road traffic deaths by more than 30 percent on these two highways.

“Road accidents are the leading cause of permanent disability, and the fourth leading cause for children’s death. They disproportionately affect poor families. For Bangladesh, improving road safety is a critical economic and development priority,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.

“This is the first dedicated road safety project in South Asia supported by the World Bank. It will help Bangladesh develop a comprehensive program to improve road safety management and minimize tragic loss of human lives.”

The costs related to traffic crashes can be as high as 5.1 percent of the GDP. Unsafe and under-invested road infrastructure is one of the key factors for crashes. With a sharp increase in the number of vehicles including two-wheelers, safety inspections for the registered vehicles remain inadequate, said a World Bank press release.

The project will support development of a long-term national program and a National Road Safety Strategic Action Plan to improve road safety through stronger coordination among ministries and strengthening the institutional framework, it said.

The project will also undertake road safety pilots in selected urban areas and district roads. It will help modernize the capacity of the Traffic Police and highway patrol to manage speeding and prevent risky road user behavior through instilling a combination of automated enforcement systems, such as CCTVs, electronic messaging, and physical measures to slow down traffic speed, including patrol vehicles and crash scene clearing equipment.

It will improve post-crash care, which is critical in saving lives. In 2016, about two-thirds of the road crash victims died on the way to a hospital. It will set up an ambulance service via a toll-free number and upgraded emergency care services in selected district hospitals, and Upazila Health Complexes along the two national highway corridors.

It will provide training to medical providers on trauma care and help develop standards, protocols, and operational policies for emergency medical care services.

It will create crash database and implement integrated traffic management and incident detection system. ICT systems will support the integration of existing information systems and databases of vehicle registration, driver licensing, and payments. The project will undertake campaigns to create road safety awareness and behavioral change.

“Investment in Road Safety Programs will be fruitful when they are matched with proper institutional setup, legislative framework, and efficient monitoring systems,” said Dipan Bose, World Bank Senior Transport Specialist and Task Team Leader of the project

“With three related ministries, Road Transport and Bridges, Health and Home Affairs joining together, this project is an example of the government’s commitment to stronger road safety management.”

The project will establish a training center for Bangladesh Police to strengthen capacity on modern road safety enforcement. It will also develop a comprehensive training program for commercial drivers.

The credit is from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), which provides concessional financing, has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period.

Source: United News of Bangladesh