The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, has inaugurated the West African Road Safety Organisation (WARSO) and used the opportunity to urge member states to go beyond the concentration on the construction and maintenance of roads and place greater emphasis on road safety.
He told delegates at the inaugural meeting in Abuja last Wednesday to 'embark on programmes that will encourage our national governments to be fully involved, most especially in the area of specific budget on road safety; and not only allocating monies to road construction and maintenance but should attach greater importance to safety on our roads'.
The president said safer roads in West Africa could only be realised through demonstrated political will and 'our joint resolution and implementation’ of the adopted byelaws and statutes of WARSO and commended Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) for initiating and leading the process that led to the emergence of the regional organisation.
He urged delegates from member states attending the meeting to adopt measures that would ensure that their countries embraced the agreed action plan for implementation.
Earlier, the Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of the FRSC, Mr. Osita Chidoka, had portrayed WARSO as a platform for countries in the West African region to share experiences, discuss issues of road safety and offer relevant solutions to the ‘peculiar’ road safety problems in the region.
He also said that the creation of the organisation would resuscitate pending and moribund programmes and projects such as the ECOWAS end-of-year-road-safety campaign and regional drivers’ licence.
According to the Corps Marshall, the initiative was conceived in April 2004 at a meeting held in Lome and later followed up with a two-day international conference on road safety in February 2008 where the Abuja Action Plan was released.
The action plan seeks to point the way for African countries to improve on the current state of road safety on the continent.
He appealed to the ECOWAS Commission to grant WARSO an observer status similar to that enjoyed by GPA-PRI, the African Regional Group of the International Road Safety Organisation.