Africa: train and BRT, the solution to accidents (expert)

Sent by APA on 01/20/2023 at 16:18

Senegal recently experienced a road tragedy that crossed its borders. Abdou Karim Diop, a road safety expert, said in an interview to APA that mass transport vehicles such as the Regional Express Train (Ter) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) are the solution to the road safety problem in Africa. In one week in January of this year, more than 60 accidents occurred on the roads of Senegal. death was registered. You have written a book about “Road accidents” (EdiSal). What are the main causes of road accidents in Senegal?

I will first have to bow to the memory of the victims. Because there have never been any significant deaths in the history of road accidents in Senegal like the Sikilo accident (center). We know the reasons. These are 90% human factor, 7% car factor and 3% road factor. We can tear them apart.

As for the human factor, four elements play a role at this level. First of all, there are perception errors associated with the lack of control by the driver. Then maneuver errors, then sleep, medication, fatigue, drowsiness, etc. There is a momentary incapacitation that can be associated with The last element is the complete incompetence of the driver.

Now the car factor is mainly related to the age of the car fleet. In Senegal, its average age is twenty years. The car is depreciated after five years. In addition, it often begins to break down. Which is not very profitable. This is the reason why this element includes the car factor in 7% of the causes of traffic accidents. There are 70-year-old cars in circulation in Senegal. This is unusual!

The last factor, which accounts for 3%, is related to problems in road design or reading due to lack of horizontal and vertical markings. All these factors together play a role in the occurrence of accidents. We did not include the institutional factor because our state plays a particularly important role in determining road safety policy in our countries.

WHO notes that the death rate due to road accidents in Africa is 26.6 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, which is 3 times higher than in developed countries. Why is it more difficult to obey traffic rules on the African continent?

The first element is primarily the aging of the vehicle fleet. There are 1.2 billion used cars and one billion tires in circulation worldwide. All these carcasses are mostly sent to the African continent. As if we are the garbage of the world. These elements are involved in the occurrence of accidents.

Illiteracy is also an explanation. In the case of Senegal, the literacy rate for people over the age of fifteen is 51%. We are in the context of underdeveloped countries with roads and vehicles that leave something to be desired. On the contrary, in the West, controls and sanctions are stricter. This is the reason why there are fewer accidents in these countries than in our tropics.

The state has withdrawn some of the 22 new measures aimed at improving road safety after the crash that killed more than 40 people in Kafrin (centre). Why?

The state retreated to get a better jump. Because there are two imperatives facing him. The first imperative is the free movement of goods and people. People who are eager to roam are engaged in their own work and engaged in their own economic activities. The second important condition is road safety. It is a more or less cornelian choice between satisfying the public’s will to pursue road safety and allowing that public to move.

There are short-term solutions to emergencies that need to be managed. The Dakar-Bamako corridor, which accounts for 46% of fatal accidents in Senegal, is a two-way road. And these types of roads cause many accidents as cars pass each other. Of course, the financing of the three-way road from Dakar to the Mali border will require a long time and many billions.

Transporters’ unions are known to be very powerful, which explains some of the government’s back-pedaling. How should the state act to enforce its measures?

First of all, educational work should be started on the general population for which these measures are intended, without taking into account the transporters and drivers. An inclusive, participatory approach should be adopted. The government, carriers and drivers should sit around the negotiating table to take these tough measures. Even if they are difficult, the state will definitely have to take them, because they are going in the direction of improving road safety conditions in the country. We cannot allow anarchy to take over the country’s roads. About 4,000 people are killed (as a result of traffic accidents) and 27,000 people are injured every year, 47 accidents are registered per day. We must stop this bleeding and this road carnage.

Some carriers have announced indefinite strikes in response to the government measures, preventing several people from going to work. What are the appropriate solutions in this situation?

We live in a state of law that guarantees freedom of work and the right to strike. Most road trips in Senegal are provided by private entities. “Dakar Dem Dikk” public transport company provides only 6% of trips in the country. The rest is managed privately. This is the problem. This is the reason why the state killed two birds with one stone by launching district express train (Tar). This mass transport proposal (which connects Dakar with Diamniadio at a distance of about thirty kilometers) makes it possible to avoid these traffic accidents. Every day, 60,000 people travel without using a vehicle. This solution solves the problem of traffic accidents in Senegal and ensures the movement of the population.

With the launch of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in the second half of this year, Senegal will gain more. 300,000 people will leave their homes every day. If the state can combine the forces of TER and BRT, it can solve many problems related to population displacement and road accidents.

In general, what reforms should Africa implement to reduce road traffic fatalities?

I would tell you about the Haddon matrix. It works on three elements: the human factor, the road factor and the car factor. To prevent injuries, we need to invest in people before the accident. This investment includes first aid, driving, obtaining a driver’s license, etc. must relate to concepts. but also requires very well-designed and readable paths. These should make it possible to reduce the error committed by the at-fault driver. Crash lanes are also very important because they allow the rescuer to quickly intervene at the scene of the accident. Another element is the car. Must be in good condition and must pass technical inspection. The combination of all these elements will prevent evil.

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