Sunday, December 1, 2013

Road Safety must be everybody‘s responsibility:Edwin Minang,Coordinator of Cameroon Road Safety Foundation.

For several months now Cameroon Road Safety Foundation (CAROSAF), has been regularly in the news due to its sustained road safety campaign, ahead of the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Cameroon’s reunification, bill for Buea this December.

The Recorder Editor Christopher Ambe, engaged the CAROSAF national coordinator during the formal launch of the campaign at Buea motor park by the Governor of the Southwest Region, Bernard Okala Bilai. Read on:

Mr. Edwin Minang, you are the National Coordinator of Cameroon Road safety Foundation (CAROSAF). Since the removal of the ridge on the over 8km double-lane road in Buea several months ago in connection with celebrations marking 50th anniversary of the reunification of Cameroon, your NGO has been involved in a Road safety Campaign. Could you tell the nature of this campaign?
       Cameroon Road safety Foundation exists since 2008 and our objectives amongst other things include:
-        - Promoting a culture of Safety amongst road users
-       -   Build Road Safety Partnerships
-     - Create/strengthen Road safety stakeholder groups
-  -  Help in the implementation of Road safety measures
   One of the permanent on-going projects we have since the 2008/2009 academic year is the “School Traffic Controllers” project in the towns of Buea and Limbe. So when the middle ridge of the main boulevard in Buea was removed prior to the start of the 2013/2014 academic year, we decided to scale-up the School Traffic Controllers project to help nursery & primary school pupils cross the road. Within the framework of this project, trained traffic controllers along the busy Buea Boulevard from Mile 17 Motor Park to the Buea Central Police round about were increased and they have been helping pupils cross the road at peak periods - the morning and afternoon. So in collaboration with the Buea Council, this is how we have tried to help reduce the chaos that was envisaged by inhabitants of Buea before the start of this school year in September. I must say that, since this school Traffic Controllers project started on the 02nd of September 2013, no child has been hit by a vehicle along this boulevard during school hours.
 What prompted the setting up of CAROSAF and which are some of its major achievements so far?
       Sometime in 2008, we lost a friend through a ghastly motor accident and as such my friends and I started thinking of how we can help fight against the carnage of road crashes. This is how a pool of experts in Highway & Transportation Engineers, Medical & Paramedical Practitioners, Educationists and other individuals created Cameroon Road safety Foundation (CAROSAF).
CAROSAF major achievements include:
-          The implementation  since its creation of the School Traffic Controllers Project  in the towns of Buea and  Limbe in the Southwest region of Cameroon,
-          The celebration Since 2010 of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims,
-           We have created a Road safety Club in the National Advanced School of Public Works-Annex Buea,
-          We have been sensitizing  Buea  township taxi drivers, inter -city bus drivers & truck drivers
 on road safety
-          We have signed a partnership agreement with the Buea Council on Road safety & Highway Injury Prevention. Within the framework of this partnership, CAROSAF acts as the technical partner to the Buea Council on issues of road safety.
-          Attended high level Road safety Conferences abroad- one of which was the 2nd African Road Safety Conference in 2011 in Addis Ababa when the African Plan of Action for the Decade of Action for Road safety 2011-2020 was adopted.

 We have noticed that your NGO has launched –starting from late November, a long Road Safety Campaign to last until January 2014. Why such a long campaign and what are the activities?
     As earlier mentioned, CAROSAF celebrates every year since its creation the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims which is a United Nations Day that offers an annual opportunity to increase public awareness of the burden of road traffic collisions on communities, and to emphasize the need to initiate & promote efforts to control this major public health and development problem. The Special Road safety campaign launched on the 24th of November 2013 was a decision arrived at by CAROSAF and the Administration of the South West Region under the patronage of the Governor.It  was dubbed “Special Road Safety campaign for the Celebration of 50 years of Reunification of Cameroon”. You know in the days ahead, thousands of people will be moving to the Southwest Regional headquarters of Buea for this epoch making event and we thought it wise to re-awaken road users (motorists & pedestrians) by carrying out Road Safety Sensitization & Awareness Raising Campaigns.
As concerns the activities for this Special Road Safety Campaign, after the launch by the Governor on Sunday the 24th of  November, he opened an Exhibition of road accident pictures at mile 17 which shall be opened to the public till the close of the campaign in January.
From Monday 25th to Saturday 30th of November, there shall be sensitization meetings with Buea township taxi drivers and other motorists within the Buea municipality, sensitization meeting with bus drivers and heavy duty truck drivers (transporters of sand & gravel).  During every sensitization meeting, there shall be distribution of flyers and stickers that have road safety slogans e.g over speeding=Accident.
From Monday, the 2nd to 7th of December, sensitization and training on management techniques of vehicle tires by MICHELLIN company, sensitization & refreshment courses of motor park drivers, travelling agencies drivers and corporation drivers charged with the transportation of people to Buea for the celebrations.
From Thursday 07th December to the end of Campaign, Special preventive Gendarmerie controls at various points along the road to Kumba, road to Mutengene, to Limbe and along the Tiko-Douala stretch of road, visits to nursery & primary schools within Buea to give brief lectures on how to use the roads as pedestrians, sensitization with random distribution of stickers, flyers and gadgets to private cars drivers within Buea municipality, Radio slots on Road safety, Ohoto exhibition still continuing at mile 17.
Friday the 3rd of January 2014, unveiling of Road safety Bill Boards respectively at Mile 14 and Liongo stretch of road by the Divisional Officer of Buea  and the Mayor of Buea
Saturday 04th of January 2014: press Conference and a round table discussion forum with various road safety stakeholders (Delegation of Transport, Forces of Law & Order, Drivers’ syndicates, the media etc) at CAROSAF office, suite 8, Fakoship Plaza.

Is road safety the concern of a select group of people?
   No.!  Road Safety must be everybody‘s responsibility!. From the highest levels of Government, through state corporations, public institutions, schools, churches, the general public, we should all put our efforts to fight this new epidemic of road accidents, which is likened to the epidemic level of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
What are the challenges you face implementing your road safety campaign?
   As every other public awareness campaign, we have some difficulties in the field with some uncooperative motorists who still do not want to adhere to the advice that we go out there and give  them. We also are limited in terms of financial capacity to reach out to a broader spectrum of road users but we hope as the public gets aware of the humanitarian catastrophe that road crashes is, we shall receive some significant support to implement the GOOD Road Practices that we preach.

 What is the coverage scope of CAROSAF?
    Our Plan is to cover the whole of the Republic as the name of the Organization depicts but for the time being we are focusing our activities within the south west region. We are using the town of Buea as a Road Safety Model Town and the successful road safety projects that we carry out in Buea shall be replicated in other towns of the Republic of Cameroon if the means are available.

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