Kathmandu, February 19
The government has floated a plan to implement road safety audit in all stages of infrastructure development to reduce road accidents on highways and sub-highways.
As per the five-year Strategic Plan for the Development of Road, Rail and Transportation for Prosperous Nepal (2016-2020) published by the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, the proposed road safety audit will be conducted from design to construction and upgradation stage. It is a systematic process for checking road safety implications of highway improvements and new road schemes.
The key objective of this process is to minimise road accident occurrence and severity. Under this process, the auditor takes into account all road users, particularly vulnerable users such as pedestrians. A figure of Nepal Police shows that over 2,000 people lose their lives in road accidents across the country every year.
Poor visibility at blind corners, inadequate safety barriers, unscientific location of passing bays, driver’s negligence, drink-driving, random roadside parking, poor condition of roads, lack of awareness of traffic rules, poor road engineering, among others, are blamed for road accidents. According to the Department of Roads, the road density in Nepal is considered to be the lowest among the south Asian countries. Of the total 12,493 km of roads, 51 per cent are paved while 36 per cent are earthen and 13 per cent gravelled.
“All measures for road accident reduction will be compulsorily adopted for enhanced road safety as per the recommendations of Nepal Road Safety Action Plan (2013-2020),” reads the strategic plan. Nepal has already prepared NRSAP in line with the Global Action Plan. All stakeholders are obliged to follow the action plan to improve and manage road safety in an integrated manner.
The NRSAP has proposed detailed formulation of road safety strategy as one of the activities of this action plan. It also sets out the activities that concerned agencies need to implement to achieve the desired goals of reducing road traffic injuries and resultant economic losses in Nepal.
According to MoPIT, the total damages and loss of transport sector alone accounts for around Rs 5,115 million every year. Nearly 18 deaths per 10,000 vehicles and other damages cost the country around 2-3 per cent of the GDP.
A version of this article appears in print on February 20, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.