Published:  12:02 AM, 18 January 2022

Road safety must be ensured

We wonder how far removed from reality the public administration ministry must be for it to not approve the Roads and Highways Department's much-needed plan to expand its road safety division. The RHD had sent a proposal to revise its organogram to the ministry in early 2020. Among other changes, the department proposed expanding the Road Safety Division into a circle of three divisions under a new wing, which reflected an urgent need for decisive interventions to address road safety concerns. But while the ministry partially approved some of the proposed changes in October 2021, it did not acknowledge the expansion plan for the road safety division, meaning that once the new organogram comes into force, the division will cease to exist.

This is, one can argue, the opposite of what we should be doing to tackle the ever-rising number of road accidents and fatalities. Given the gravity of the situation, shouldn't the expansion plan have been looked over and approved on a priority basis? Instead, the RHD is now forced to revise its plan to somehow include road safety initiatives within its new organogram. The current road safety division consists of about 10 people, not nearly enough to handle the massive workload. Although it will be a while before the organogram comes into effect, it is unlikely that the RHD's demands for more manpower will be met.

Already, the Road Transport Act 2018 is sitting largely idle and still being redone as per demands of transport associations. If the attitude of the public administration ministry is so dismissive towards a plan that could help reduce deaths on the roads, it is certainly a cause for concern.

At a time when there's a heightened public concern over traffic deaths and safety, the Road Safety Division of the RHD may soon cease to exist.

And it may happen despite a proposal from the RHD to rather expand and strengthen it, considering how reckless driving and violations of traffic rules are claiming lives every day throughout the country.

The division was formed under the Roads and Highways Department to deal with issues related to road safety. Currently, an executive engineer is at its helm.

In a proposal sent to the public administration ministry in early 2020, the RHD suggested that the division be expanded into a circle under a new wing. It also proposed several changes in the existing organogram with additional manpower.

The RHD chief engineer has said that their next course of action would be to resend the proposal, including the road safety division provision, to the public administration ministry. We hope it will be considered so that the department is better armed to decrease the likelihood of accidents occurring on our roads.

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