Mhona calls for removal of sanctions in Geneva

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Mhona calls for removal of sanctions in Geneva

Freeman Razemba in GENEVA, Switzerland

DESPITE the robust engagement and re-engagement efforts by Zimbabwe’s leadership, illegal unilateral coercive measures imposed by some Western countries make efforts towards achieving set road safety targets much harder, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona has said.

These sanctions were hurting the ordinary people and frustrating their efforts towards meeting, not only the global road safety targets, but also the broader SDGs. 

He was speaking at the Inland Transport Committee forum for road safety high-level side event at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The theme of the event was: “National road safety management success stories and supporting low and middle-income countries to achieve their road safety.”

“Allow me from the outset to acknowledge the leadership of the ITC in coordinating states towards road safety. 

“Your ability to facilitate a conducive environment for reflecting on pressing global road safety issues, should be remembered as a hallmark of your leadership thus far.

“I wish to reiterate that Zimbabwe is committed to cooperation under the United Nations system, and to the adoption of international good practices and standards on road safety. Indeed, Zimbabwe joins the United Nations family in shaping the attendant discourse, at a time when the road safety situation is, indeed, more acute in developing countries, as a result of a multifaceted set of reasons,” Minister Mhona said.

He said while their counterparts from the developed world have fared comparably well in adopting sustainable measures to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents, in developing countries the authorities remain entangled in the legacies and inequities of the past.

Minister Mhona said the race for economic development, at the backdrop of insufficient road infrastructure development, compounded by a disproportionate vehicle population growth, has created this untenable situation resulting in increased crashes and fatalities.

According to the road safety report which was launched on January 12, 2022, in Zimbabwe, a traffic crash occurs every 15 minutes, over 35 000 crashes occur annually, an average of at least 5 people are killed every day, over 1 800 people die every year and over 10 000 people are injured annually.

The report was produced through the assistance of the UN Secretary General Special Envoy for Road Safety, Mr Jean Todt.

“As we move in to confront the challenges highlighted by the road safety report, we are upbeat that the recommendations proffered by the experts shall adequately checkmate our deficiencies, with the view to propel structural, institutional and administrative transformations, leveraged by a robust legislative framework.

“Through legislative reviews, we have adopted and rolled out a new driver’s licence regime that is internationally recognised; becoming one of the pioneer states to do so in the SADC and Africa. 

“We have also made it compulsory for public service vehicles which carry passengers and big haulage trucks to be installed with speed monitoring and limiting devices given that speeding is one of the major contributors of road fatalities in Zimbabwe,” Minister Mhona said.

Zimbabwe was currently reviewing policies and laws with the view to strengthening the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe into a lead road traffic management agency, with the powers to regulate and enforce road traffic safety management laws and to coordinate and galvanise all actors, anchored on all five pillars of road safety.

The legislative reform was also covering issues related to registration and monitoring of driving schools, introduction of the penalty point system for drivers who flout road rules, and compulsory installation of speed monitoring and limiting devices on public service vehicles.

“This has given us impetus to align ourselves with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3,6, on halving the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes, and SDG target 11,2 on providing access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems as well as improve road safety for all.

“Zimbabwe is a contracting party to the Convention on Road Traffic of 19 September 1949 and Convention on Road Traffic, of 8 November 1968. We have also become an active participant in the annual sessions of the Inland Transport Committee, where our exposure and crucial engagements have thus far resulted in our participation in the following platforms: Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety (WP.1), World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29); Working Party on the Transport of Dangerous Goods; and Working Party on Automated/Autonomous and Connected Vehicles (GRVA),” Minister Mhona said.

Zimbabwe was also at an advanced stage towards accession of four conventions on vehicle regulation, “which we are upbeat will strengthen our road safety management regime and programming.”

These undergoing the internal process of accession were: The 1957 agreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods; the 1958 agreement concerning the adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted or used on wheeled vehicles and the conditions for reciprocal recognition of approvals granted on the basis of these prescriptions; the 1997 agreement concerning the adoption of uniform conditions for periodical inspection of wheeled vehicles; and the 1998 agreement concerning the establishing of global technical regulations for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted or be used on wheeled vehicles.

“In Zimbabwe, despite the robust engagement and re-engagement efforts by my country’s leadership, illegal unilateral coercive measures imposed by some Western countries remain an albatross to our efforts towards achieving our set road safety targets.

“I therefore want to use this platform to rally the international community to encourage countries which have imposed these sanctions on us to lift them, as they are hurting the ordinary people and frustrating our efforts towards meeting, not only the Global Road Safety targets, but also the broader SDGs,” he said.

Minister Mhona said Zimbabwe would remain optimistic in confronting the seemingly insurmountable challenges faced in achieving the SDG target on Road safety.

“ Zimbabwe embraces smart, win-win partnerships and sustainable cooperation with multilateral stakeholders within the UN system. Allow me to reiterate Zimbabwe’s commitment towards the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030.

“We have no doubt that these targets will be met as Zimbabwe has launched Vision 2030, anchored on the collective aspirations and determination of the people to achieve a prosperous and empowered upper middle-income society by that target year, as enunciated by my country’s leader, His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde, Dr. E.D Mnangagwa,” he said.