DHAKA, March 29 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank has approved 358 million U.S. dollars of financing to help Bangladesh improve road safety and reduce fatalities and injuries from road traffic crashes on selected high-risk highways and district roads.
The Road Safety Project will help Bangladesh achieve the Sustainable Development Goals on road safety by 2030, said the bank in a statement received here Tuesday.
In two national highways, N4 (Gazipur-Elenga) and N6 (Natore to Nawabganj), the project will pilot comprehensive road safety measures, including improved engineering designs, signing and marking, pedestrian facilities, speed enforcement, emergency care, added the statement.
It said these measures will help reduce road traffic deaths by more than 30 percent on these two highways.
"Road accidents are the leading cause of permanent disability, and the fourth leading cause for children's death. They disproportionately affect poor families. For Bangladesh, improving road safety is a critical economic and development priority," said Mercy Tembon, World Bank country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.
"This is the first dedicated road safety project in South Asia supported by the World Bank. It will help Bangladesh develop a comprehensive program to improve road safety management and minimize tragic loss of human lives," Tembon said.
According to the World Bank statement, costs related to traffic crashes can be as high as 5.1 percent of the gross domestic product.
Unsafe and under-invested road infrastructure is one of the key factors for crashes, and with a sharp increase in the number of vehicles including two-wheelers, safety inspections for the registered vehicles remain inadequate, it said.
The project will establish a training center for Bangladesh Police to strengthen capacity on modern road safety enforcement, said the bank, adding the project will also develop a comprehensive training program for commercial drivers. ■