ISLAMABAD: Road crashes have a colossal impact on the economy. Every year Pakistan loses a collective sum of Rs100 billion, documents obtained by The Express Tribune showed on Saturday.
Currently, Pakistan lacks a national road safety plan for national highways and motorways, creating a huge burden on the national economy in terms of traffic accidents.
The country also lacks a centralised system for accurate data on road accidents, it is learnt. Documents also show that the annual domestic fatality rate is over 6 persons per 10,000 vehicles.
“The soaring number of fatalities on our roads highlights the dire need to act urgently by adopting proactive measures in rudimentary areas of engineering, enforcement, education and emergency management,” the documents stated.
The head of roads at the communication ministry Hameed Akhtar told The Express Tribune that the ministry had formulated a draft national road safety plan for national highways and motorways.
The draft plan will soon be presented before the National Road Safety and Urban Transport Council for approval, he said.
Akhtar said that total road infrastructure stretched over 260,000 kilometres in Pakistan.
The draft plan, sources said, will be implemented across all national highways falling in the domain of the federal government. The total length of such roads and highways was just 12,000 km – a mere 3.5 per cent of the total road network in the country.
“Once approved, we want all departments concerned at provincial level to follow this road safety plan for devising a designated plan for their respective provinces,” he said.
Meanwhile, an official of the communication ministry, who wished not to be named, told The Express Tribune that shortage of funds was one of the major hurdles in the way of ensuring road safety practices at the national level.
“The government has not earmarked even a single penny in this regard,” he said.
He said that the Wafaqi Mohtasib took sou motu notice on media reports regarding a road accident that occurred on November 11 in 2014 near Theiri Bypass on the National Highway (N-5) in District Khairpur in Sindh which claimed 57 lives.
The Wafaqi Mohtasib directed the Ministry to prepare a National Annual Safety Plan by inviting all stakeholders and include best practices of road safety and infrastructure from around the world, he said.
The plan was shared with the Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat in a meeting held on April 26 this year and it was decided that the Ministry would notify a National Steering Committee for Development of National Road Safety Plan for National Highways and Motorways.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2016.