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King discusses bettering Kingdom’s road safety with UN, EU officials

Razzaz outlines Jordan’s plans for enhancing public transportation

By JT - Jan 29,2019 - Last updated at Jan 29,2019

His Majesty King Abdullah meets with UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt and European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc at Al Husseiniya Palace on Monday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Monday received UN Secrtary General's Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt and European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc, according to a Royal Court statement. 

During the meeting at Al Husseiniya Palace, attended by HRH Prince Feisal, discussions tackled the importance of scaling up cooperation and exchanging expertise between Jordan, the UN and the EU in the field of road safety and reducing traffic accidents, the statement added.

Adviser to His Majesty and Director of the Office of His Majesty Manar Dabbas, Minister of Public Works and Housing Falah Omoush and EU Ambassador to Jordan Andrea Fontana attended the meeting.

On a visit to discuss cooperation with the Kingdom on road safety, Todt and Bulc also met separately with Prime Minister Omar Razzaz, along with their accompanying delegation, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Discussions focused on an initiative launched by the UN and its related organisations designated to road traffic safety as part of UN efforts aiming at cutting the number of deaths from traffic accidents, which exceed one million fatalities per year, globally, and cost more than $500 billion, according to World Health Organisation data.

Water Minister and acting health minister Raed Abul Saud, Public Works and Housing Minister and acting transport minister Falah Omoush and EU ambassador to Jordan Andrea Fontana attended the meeting.

Razzaz stressed that the government’s priorities for the next two years include improving the Kingdom’s public transportation system and upgrading services offered to citizens, noting that the huge number of private cars is attributed to the weakness of the public transportation system.

The premier pointed out that in order to enhance road safety and better monitor public vehicles, work is under way to install cameras and tracking systems and apply standards for public safety, in addition to establishing strict schedules for public buses that would make them more reliable and encourage citizens to use them.

The government has endorsed a system for schools’ transportation that would ensure students’ safety, he added.

The UN envoy reviewed the organisation’s initiative, launched to improve road safety worldwide, reduce road accidents and raise awareness on traffic safety, noting that several Mediterranean countries have recorded the highest rates of traffic accident globally. 

In an op-ed published on The Jordan Times on Monday, Bulc said that “the World Health Organisation estimates that 2,306 people died on Jordan’s roads in 2016. That means 2,306 lives wasted, 2,306 mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and children, multiple times that number of lives torn apart”, noting that this “silent killer” is avoidable.

She also expressed her hope to share her political vision — based on the knowledge, good practices and policies built up in the EU — with Jordan.

The talks, also attended by Secretary General of the Ministry of Health Hekmat Abu Foul and Secretary General of the Transport Ministry Naeem Hasban, covered regional transportation projects and railway links to boost regional economy.

Razzaz reiterated that the government is very interested in transport projects and land links with neighbouring countries, especially Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia and those connecting to Europe, as they are particularly important for trade exchange and people’s movement.

Later in the day, Public Security Department (PSD) Director Maj. Gen. Fadel Hmoud met Todt and Bulc over joint cooperation in the field of traffic. Hmoud said that the PSD is implementing its plans according to a comprehensive traffic strategy aiming at increasing road safety.

Bulc commended the PSD’s seriousness towards road safety and its keenness to develop the capacity of its personnel. 

Also on Monday, Civil Defence Department (CDD) Director General Maj. Gen. Mustafa Bazaiah received in his office Todt and Bulc and the accompanying delegation, and discussed ways of joint cooperation in the field of road safety.

Bazaiah stressed that the CDD is implementing strategic plans aimed at reducing traffic accidents and fatalities, injuries and material losses resulting from them, according to Petra.  

He said that the CDD established 200 new locations, distributed throughout the Kingdom, in order to reduce response time, in addition to increasing awareness and education programmes, through which all causes of accidents are being disseminated.

He added that the CDD worked with the PSD to develop 14 emergency stations within some security checkpoints to serve highway drivers and residents of the areas under the jurisdiction of these stations. 

For his part, Todt lauded the CDD’s role in assisting people during traffic accidents and in providing humanitarian services to them.

The delegation expressed its preparedness to hold several workshops and exchange expertise in the field of road safety and capacity building.

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