Sri Lanka needs USD 2.0 bn to cut down road deaths by half: World Bank

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will need 2 billion US dollars of investment over the next 10 years to cut road crash fatalities by 50 percent, which will also be a drag on economic growth, the World Bank said.

According to data cited by the World Bank, Sri Lanka records an average of 38,000 crashes annually resulting in 3,000 deaths and 8,000 injuries.

“The estimated annual road crash deaths per capita is the highest among its immediate neighbors in South Asia and five times that of the best performing countries in the world,” the World Bank said in a statement.

Over two thirds of road crash victims in Sri Lanka are between the working ages of 15-64 years, the report said.

Of that 90 percent of crash victims are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

The World Bank estimates that road crash fatalities and injuries could cost countries like Sri Lanka between 3-5 percent of GDP annually.

“High road crash fatality and injury rates on Sri Lanka’s roads are undermining the economic growth and progress made over the past decade on reducing poverty and boosting prosperity.

“It is estimated that Sri Lanka will require an additional investment of almost 2 billion dollars over the coming decade if it is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 3.6 target of a 50 percent reduction in national road crash fatalities,” the report said.

The World Bank said if immediate measures aren’t taken, the numbers would climb steadily risking a country’s health, well-being, human capital, and economic growth.

The lender has also identified that the cause for mounting road accidents is because of underinvestment in targeted initiatives.

It calls for a long term commitment from the government of Sri Lanka for investments on road safety to be effective.

Some of the initiatives it suggests are:

  • Strengthening safe infrastructure design to ensure the protection of all road users and inclusion of roadside communities
  • Establishing robust vehicle and driver licensing systems that are accessible by law enforcement agencies and regulatory authorities before the full power of safety compliance regimes can be exercised
  • Facilitating inclusive road user policies and integrated land use/transport planning to ensure urban and rural roads are safe and accessible for all road users
  • Prioritising speed management in all planning and policy considerations addressing infrastructure, vehicle, and road user safety issues

The World Bank also noted that there are positive signs from the government in this regard such as the proposed establishment of the National Road Safety Commission and a national road crash database. (Colombo/Nov05/2021)

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