Transport Policy Unit To Address Road-User Issues
NASSAU, The Bahamas – Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation C. V. Hope Strachan said recently that cognisant of the need to prevent road traffic injuries and fatalities in 2002, the Government under the leadership of then Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin established The Transport Policy and Planning Unit (TPPU).
“Interestingly, it was established under the Institutional Development and Strengthening Component of the New Providence Road Improvement Project,” Minister Strachan said, while giving background information on the unit, during her contribution to the 2012-2013 Budget Debate in the House of Assembly.
“The mandate of the TPPU was to focus on transportation policy and planning, traffic management, road maintenance, public transportation and road safety.”
She added that the TPPU’s work began “in earnest” in 2004 and the unit developed a National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) and provided a strategic framework to address road safety over a six-year period (2006-2012).
“The Strategy is multi-sectoral – involving agencies concerned with transport, health, education law enforcement and other relevant sectors,” Minister Strachan said. “It was also multi-disciplinary involving road safety specialists, engineers, urban planners, health professionals and others.”
She said the strategy took into consideration the needs of all road users, particularly vulnerable road users. The unit also involved groups from Government to private sector, non- governmental organisations, the mass media and the general public.
“In mid 2005 the NRSS went to Cabinet for endorsement, so as to release it as an official document for circulation within The Bahamas,” Minister Strachan said. “Such an initiative provided a common frame work and collaborative approach to addressing Road Safety in The Bahamas on a sustainable and by-partisan basis.”
She pointed out, however, that while the document was published, it was not distributed nationally.
“It languished on the shelf between 2007 to the present time,” Minister Strachan said. “Moreover the time lines set forth 2006 to 2012 in the strategic frame work have all but expired.”
The TPPU engaged two specialists between 2004 to 2005 and completed reports to address the NRSS, she said.
Minister Strachan said that the strategy addressed, among other areas, the following: developed a revised crash-data form to assist the public in their traffic investigations, reviewed and updated the existing Highway Code, and reviewed and updated the existing school curriculum programme and developed a curriculum for senior high school level students with a driver’s education programme including theory and practical lessons.
It also developed a Drivers Instructions manual with efforts to influence, the skills, habits and attitudes of drivers for the long term; developed “Code of Practice” for driving schools and criteria for instructors qualifications; reviewed current licence categories for The Bahamas and made recommendations to improve the arrest system.
“The NRSS developed a simple registration system for driving school instructions for various classes of drivers licences,” Minister Strachan said. “This document is under review at the Attorney General’s Office.”
She said they also developed a Drivers Examination handbook, which is now being used in the examination unit by all examiners.
The TPPU also drafted legislation for the licensing of Driving School and qualification of instructors, with legal penalties. This draft, she added, is still presently at the Attorney General’s Office.
Minister Strachan said that, in 2011, an international body named The Commission for Road Safety, together with The United Nations Road Safety Collaboration, launched a global initiative conceived as “A Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020”.
“It was launched in 100 countries including many of our neighbours in the Caribbean like Jamaica and Barbados,” she added. “The initiative is to prevent five million deaths from traffic accidents in 10 years.”
It is reported, she pointed out, that 1.3 million people worldwide die each year in traffic accidents. Traffic accidents are also the No. 1 cause of death for young people worldwide, she stated.
“If this initiative is implemented and we are able to increase awareness and decrease the numbers of deaths on our streets, we could count the programme a success,” Minister Strachan said.
“Work on this project is also part of the responsibility of the TPPU,” she added. “Unfortunately work on the project did not advance beyond the initial stage and consequently we are a year behind our counterparts.
“It is anticipated that we will again begin work on this initiative to try to make up time lost to date.”
By ERIC ROSE
Bahamas Information Services