Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies, is reporting that Government’s effort to reduce the number of deaths on the roads has resulted in a 20 per cent drop in fatal accidents since the start of the year.
“Our commitment to road safety is clear and unambiguous, and we are beginning to see the benefits, as through co-ordination with our road safety stakeholders, there has been a 20 per cent reduction in road fatalities between January and March this year, when compared to 2011,” he informed.
“This has positioned us strongly to bring road fatalities below 300 this year,” the Minister added, while delivering the opening address at the International Road Federation's (IRF) First Caribbean Regional Congress, held at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel, in Montego Bay, on May 9.
The Minister pointed out that road marking equipment has been procured to improve the marking of road signs, inclusive of regulatory and warning signs, geared towards enhancing road safety on the roadway. “Several new traffic signals have also been installed and others rehabilitated. It should be noted that these installations were based on the actual crash data, which provided guidance,” Dr. Davies said.
He explained that as part of Government’s commitment to safer roads, the Ministry is continuously developing strategies to maintain the roadways, bridges, and street signs.
Dr. Davies said the region, including Jamaica, is particularly vulnerable to coastal hazards as a result of the perennial storms that pass through the area. “In this regard, it is imperative that we identify areas prone to land slippage, slope failure, flooding and develop mitigating measures which can be put in place to cushion the negative effects that these natural disasters can have on the road network,” he told the audience.
Citing the challenges posed by natural and manmade disasters, he stressed that his administration is determined to deal with them effectively. “We have to embark on measures to mitigate their impact, such as equipping our engineers and technical officers with the skills to use cutting edge technology… to evaluate and manage our assets. This will allow us to better analyse, plan and manage our road network, thus further enhancing our ability to make adequate and reliable decisions for the sustainable development of our roads,” the Minister said.
Dr. Davies emphasised that road transport is crucial to the region’s economies, and the road authorities capacity must be boosted to be able to effectively deal with crises. He said the IRF Congress and the professionals that will impart their expertise over the three-day event will help the region to implement the United Nations Road Safety Resolution that declares the period 2011to 2020 as the Global Decade of Action for Road Safety.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter