The government of Bangladesh and the World Bank on Wednesday launched a project to improve road safety, and reduce fatalities and injuries from road accidents in selected cities, high-risk highways, and district roads.
The Road Safety Project, which receives $358 million in financing from the World Bank, is the first dedicated road safety project in South Asia supported by the World Bank.
On two national highways — N4 (Gazipur-Elenga) and N6 (Natore to Nawabganj) — the project will pilot comprehensive road safety measures, including improved engineering designs, signage and mark-ing, pedestrian facilities, speed enforcement, and emergency care.
These measures will help reduce road traffic deaths by more than 30 percent on these two highways.
To make the highways and urban roads safer, in five divisions — Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, Rangpur, and Mymensingh — the project will install road signs, dividers, footpaths, raised zebra crossings, speed breakers, and bus bays.
“Road safety affects us all. Road crashes are the fourth leading cause of children’s death in Bangladesh, and youth are disproportionately affected. Road fatalities and injuries are personal and family tragedies, and they undermine a country’s growth and human development. For Bangladesh, improving road safety is a key development priority,” said Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.
“Through this project and other ongoing initiatives, the World Bank is helping Bangladesh make roads safer for its people.”
Fast access to medical facilities and trauma care is crucial in saving lives from road crashes. The project will pilot ambulance services, including bike-ambulances, with a toll-free number to take road crash vic-tims to the hospital quickly along selected highways and roads. Further, the project will upgrade trauma care facilities in selected district hospitals, and Upazila Health Complexes.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, who was present as the chief guest, said, “The project will support Bangladesh in its commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals on road safety by 2030.”
The project will help modernise the capacity of the traffic police and highway patrol to manage speeding and prevent risky road user behaviour.
To control speed, the project will install CCTV on roads, and construct electric messaging system. It will make provision for patrol vehicles and crash site cleaning equipment.
It will also help the government strengthen institutions to effectively manage road safety across the country.
The Roads and Highways Department, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, Bangladesh Police, Direc-torate General of Health Services of the Government of Bangladesh will work together to implement the project.
Bangladesh currently has the largest ongoing IDA program totaling $16.3 billion. The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh and has committed about $40 billion in grants, interest-free and concessional credits to the country since its independence.