Delft Road Safety Course in Ghana highlights the challenges to improving road safety in Africa
By Samuel Obeng Asiamah, Course Co-ordinator
Delft Road Safety Courses are a joint initiative of the Delft University of Technology, the Foundation of Postgraduate Education at Delft University, SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research and Road Safety for All. These Dutch based organizations started the Delft Road Safety Courses in 2012 for road safety professionals in low to middle income countries.
Delft Road Safety Courses focus on postgraduate participants working in the field of road safety and participants work for governments, research institutions, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, etc. Their goal is to develop a set of core competences for road safety professionals, including:
- Understand the nature of road safety.
- Understand causes of crashes from the interactions between human being – road – vehicle.
- Understand origins, characteristics and use of crash data and other road safety data.
- Obtain knowledge of the most important theories and methods used in road safety (research) and to read/understand research reports.
- Design road safety management strategies and effective countermeasure in these strategies based on validated knowledge.
- Design and implement road safety action plans.
The Delft Road Safety Courses are specifically interested in a ‘train-the-trainer approach’ and support participants when they returned back home using an internet based ‘alumni-network.’
Delft Road Safety Courses use top level lecturers from the Netherlands, from other developed countries and experts from developing countries. The lectures cover a very wide range of topics and they have ample experience in working in and with low to middle income countries. The courses in recent years have been rated very highly by the participants.
In 2014, Delft Road Safety Courses decided to continue the courses in Delft, Holland and start up international courses inspired by their success, with the Ghana/Nigeria course held in Accra in August 2016.
Together with representatives from National Road Safety Commission in Ghana and Federal Road Safety Corps in Nigeria, who attended the 2015 course in Delft, the programme and course content was drafted.
Ghana and Nigeria also developed their own road safety strategy with a Road Safety Action Plan (international or national), often based on the five pillars recommended by the UN Road Safety Plan for the Decade of Action. It is encouraging to take note of the conclusions from a recent report (2015) published by the UN Economic Commission for Africa. UNECA concluded that ‘Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa are the top three performers among 23 countries in accomplishing the activities of the African Road Safety Action Plan’. It is of crucial importance to monitor and evaluate how implemented road safety activities will result in less people killed and injured on road crashes.
Adequate road safety data systems and research capabilities are needed to arrive at valid and reliable conclusions.
To improve road safety is not an easy task by any means and countries can learn from each other’s experiences. However, as the nature of road safety problems differs between countries as do the possibilities for improvements, the strategies and action plans should be tailor-made for each country in the world. In other words: every country needs to analyze its own road safety problems and its own potential for solutions. International communication and cooperation is nothing more and nothing less than the exchange of ‘evidences’ assuming that a recipient country has sufficient capacity to transfer and adapt that information to local conditions. Only well-trained staff is able to carry out this work. The aim of the Road Safety Course in Ghana is to train local professionals working in Ghana and Nigeria in such a way that they will be able to carry out this transfer.
Forty Three Participants attended this course in Accra and they were from Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. They were mainly mid-level professionals from the National road safety Commission in Ghana, Ghana highway Authority, Ghana police Service, Ghana Department of urban roads, Federal road safety Commission, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, Metro Mass transit Limited, Ghana.
The Delft Course includes a train-the-trainer philosophy and aims to teach a set of core competences for road safety professionals. Professor Fred Wegman was the course leader and was supported by Lecturers from local universities and institutes with the highest international reputation.
The Course was structured in five blocks:
- INTRODUCTION – The aim of this block is to introduce road safety problems in Low and Middle Income Countries and to give a clue which approaches are best used to tackle these problems. It gave participants the opportunity for a 10 minute presentation to introduce road safety situations in their countries and organizations. It also gave the course leader an opportunity to understand the extent of the participant’s road safety knowledge. World Health Organization handbooks and manuals on road safety are used and students were also taught the potential risks on Africa’s roads by Engineer Magnus Quarshie, a local road safety consultant with international reputation.
- ROAD SAFETY MANAGEMENT – Participants were introduced to relevant topics in road safety management, which included a presentation from the World Bank on Road Safety Policies worldwide, and compared Road Safety Policies in Ghana and Nigeria with others worldwide. There were presentations and case studies from Ghana and Nigeria from the National Road Safety Commission and Federal Road Safety Commission.
- ROAD SAFETY DATA, RESEARCH AND RISK ON ROADS – This was the important section for developing a Road Safety Strategy. It is helped to describe road safety problems, developments in problems and to understand them. This block allows for a correct assessment of interventions. Mr. Pieter Vetner of the Global Road Safety Partnership introduced participants to road safety interventions and the course leader explained the famous Safe Systems Approach in road safety. Participants were put in seven groups and given thematic tasks to present as a group to the course leader at the end of the training.
- EVALUATION OF ROAD SAFETY EFFORTS AND TECHNICAL VISITS – Participants paid a visit to a George Walker Bush Highway, a crash prone road in Accra to evaluate the adequacy of road safety interventions on the roadway. The idea was to understand road safety inspections and audit procedures. Mr. Pieter Venter continued his presentation on Understanding road safety interventions and effectiveness of road safety measures.
- DEVELOPING INTERVENTIONS FOR SPECIFIC ROAD SAFETY PROBLEMS – The last and final block was to allow participants to do group presentations on areas of road safety using case studies on Pedestrian safety, Motorcycle safety, and urban mobility, etc.
The next course in Ghana is scheduled for 6 to 11 August 2017.