Qatar’s Public Works Authority (Ashghal) is seeking to lower the speed limits set for several roads in Qatar in a new initiative to bring down the number of accidents. This is a sensible move. Aggressive driving and speeding are common on Doha’s roads now. Strict regulations are needed to counter this trend. Qatar already has one of the highest rates of road accidents in the world.
During a presentation at the Qatar Transport Conference in Doha this week, Ashghal official, Yousef Abdulrahman al-Emadi, blamed speeding for most fatalities in road accidents. Speaking on “Road safety in Qatar: improving safety for all road users”, al-Emadi said Ashghal had recommended reduction in the current speed limits to the government.
Ashghal is also calling for the installation of additional radars and cameras at key locations in Doha as part of its initiative.
But rules and regulations alone are not enough to bring about a safety culture on our roads. Programmes to raise safety awareness among motorists should be a regular feature of all initiatives. That is why the “One Second” campaign , launched by the Traffic Department in association with Maersk this week, is important.
A Qatar National Road Safety Strategy (2013-2022), released in January 2013, aims to save 800 lives and prevent 2,000 serious injuries over the next 10 years. This is an achievable target if the government acts on the Ashghal suggestion and organises regular campaigns like “One Second”.
Questions over new African force
Aware that they have failed to get a fully-fledged peacekeeping force up and running, African leaders now plan a rapid-deployment emergency force, but the question is whether it can deliver.
The African Union’s “African Standby Brigade”, meant to intervene swiftly in regional crises, has made little headway since preparations for a proposed force of 32,500 troops and civilians drawn from the continent’s five regions started a decade ago. Only two of five regional sections are close to becoming operational.
A new emergency force announced this week is intended to bridge the gap pending the full coming into operation of that brigade, according to AU security chief Ramtane Lamamra.
South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia have pledged troops to the interim force. Funding and troop contributions will come from member states on a voluntary basis.
The AU was criticised for not responding fast enough to crisis in Mali, after soldiers seized power in a coup in March 2012, opening the way for Islamist rebels to take over the country’s north. However, some analysts are hopeful. Solomon Ayele Dersso, senior researcher on conflict prevention at South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies, says the emergency force could work since the troops for it will be volunteered by member states with proven military capacity, instead of trying to include soldiers from every member state, as the full Standby Brigade proposes.
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