Saving lives on Ethiopian Roads: JU becomes a national pioneer

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – August 24-25, 2017(ECA) – Jimma University and Lucy Consulting Engineers PLC organized a two-day conference on ‘Road Safety’.  The conference, which aimed at creating a forum for discussion and networking, has managed to bring together academics, researchers, professionals, administrators, policy makers, industry representatives, students, and several others who are working to improve road safety in Ethiopia. The Conference was attended by officials, scholars, students, Practitioners, and was opened by HE Dr. Mulatu Teshome, President of the FDRE. 
It is said in the Conference; every year more than 1.25 million people die and as many as 50 million of people are injured or disabled on the world’s roads. Over 90% of the deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. The conference also highlighted that the risk of road traffic deaths is the highest in African and especially in Ethiopia. In 2015, 23,837 road traffic fatalities occurred in Ethiopia. Children, disabled and pedestrians are said to be among the most vulnerable road users in Ethiopia. 
On the first day, the conference hosted inaugural activities.  Mrs. Sandra Vitale, an attaché at the Italian Embassy in Ethiopia who have lost her son on the ring road in Addis Ababa in 2009, gave a testimony about the accident and how that affected her life. She told the audience, the accident encouraged her to work on the issues of road safety in Ethiopia.  ‘We must join hands and all of us must play our respective roles in areas of road safety; infrastructure, vehicles, and road user’s behavior’, said HE Dr. Mulatu Teshome, FDRE President who delivered an opening speech in the conference. He Said, ‘Ethiopia hard-hit by road traffic crashes as an unfortunate consequence of otherwise positive rapid economic growth.’
The second day of the Conference was devoted to presentation of scientific papers on road safety issues from various disciplines. Issues presented and discussed include: Road users behavior, Road geometric design and traffic accidents, Traffic engineering technologies, integrated traffic congestion management system, Challenges of emergency medical services in handling road traffic accident, Post-crash mortality reduction, Private-Public-Partnerships (PPP’s) initiatives in reducing traffic accidents, Socio-cultural factors affecting traffic accidents and Economic and financial impacts of traffic accidents were the major issues discussed.
HE Engineer Aisha Mohammed, FDRE Construction Minster made a closing remark in which she highlighted that the role of the conference is mainly to bring the academic and the practitioners. It is generally believed that the conference is a significant step forward in engaging higher educational institutions in a road safety discussion.