Fatal road accidents on the rise
DESPITE a pledge to reduce road deaths by half, the number of casualties has continued to increase in the first eight months of this year. Nearly 3500 people have died on Myanmar’s roads from the start of the year until September 30, police officials announced at a conference held this week in Nay Pyi Taw.
“From January 1 to September 30, 2016, 11,970 accidents have been recorded leading to 19,095 injuries and 3480 deaths,” said Colonel Kyaw Htwe from the Myanmar Police Force in Nay Pyi Taw.
“On average, each day there are 43.85 accidents, 69.95 people injured and 12.75 deaths,” he added.
Last year, an average of 11.6 people were killed in automobile accidents each day. The casualties have climbed annually: In 2003, an average of 2.3 people were killed daily.
Based on current figures, the number of accidents, injuries and deaths on the country’s roads is slated to again surpass last year’s totals.
“Like in other developing countries, in Myanmar as more cars come on the roads there is an increase in accidents. That’s why we need to pay attention and work together to fight against road accidents like other ASEAN countries have done,” said U Zaw Min Oo, director general of the Road Transport Administration Department (RATD).
With almost 13 people dying as a result of traffic accidents each day, Myanmar’s roads are among the most dangerous in Southeast Asia.
The October 28 Policy Development Conference on Road Safety was organised jointly by Heineken subsidiary APB Alliance Brewery, the RATD, and the Ministry of Transportation and Communication.
The event was attended by representatives from various ministries, police departments, private sector companies, CSOs and MPs.
In a bid to curb the increasing number of deaths and injuries on the country’s roads, Minister for Transport and Communication U Thant Sin Maung announced at the conference that from November 1, cars without proper seatbelts would not be registered or re-registered.
Deputy director Daw Pa Pa Lin of the RATD said her organisation would work on updating current regulations concerning seatbelts and baby seats in the near future.
For their part, the third co-host of the event, APB Alliance Brewery, said that they would continue to educate the public on road safety through the edutainment campaign they have been running since 2014.
“We expect our campaign to reach more than 15 million people through all possible channels to gain awareness for road safety and live saving rules. We have also created the Shwe Lann game app where the people can download and post cartoons. We will be able to reduce 50 percent of the road accidents by 2020,” said Zita Schellekens, director of corporate relations for APB Alliance.
Former MP Daw Nyo Nyo Thin lauded the hosts for their collaborative approach to the problem but called for greater public input.
“Collaborative actions are very important but in order to have true collaboration, we need to hear from the public. We should only implement policies that the public have cooperated on,” she said.
In the first eight months of this year, 12.75 people died on average each day in road accidents.