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Uganda establishes national lead agency

25 January 2014

On average there are 61 accidents and nine deaths every day on Uganda's roads. The Guardian reports that now, five years after the idea was mooted, the government is in the final stages of setting up a national agency to reduce traffic deaths and improve road safety.

And Uganda is not alone. Across sub-Saharan Africa, which has thehighest road fatality rates of any global region (pdf), several countries are setting up road safety agencies, a step the UN recommends in its Global Plan for the decade of action on road safety.

The World Health Organisation and the World Bank have long maintained that dedicated national agencies are the best way to tackle the issue of road safety, which does not fall strictly within the authority of traditional ministries of health, transport or law enforcement.

In Uganda, the new National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) will be responsible for "advocacy, sensitisation, awareness campaigns and lobbying for more funding", says Nathan Tumushabe, secretary of the country's National Road Safety Council, a branch of the transport ministry that will be disbanded once the NRSA is established.

The NRSA has at least one good example to follow: Nigeria, which set up its Federal Road Safety Corps  25 years ago in an attempt to reduce carnage on the roads. At the time, there were about 25,000 crashes per year in the country, says Osita Chidoka, head of the corps. By 2012, the figure had dropped by 75%.
The Nigerian agency, which reports to the president's office, won a major international road safety award in 2008. The World Bank's Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Programme has described it as "an inspiration to other countries in several ways", singling it out for its professional management and use of modern technology, among other things.

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