MANILA, November 2, 2010—A major road safety assessment project in the Philippines got underway with the signing of a financing agreement between the World Bank and the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP), a non-profit organization promoting safer road infrastructure. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is the lead agency and proponent for the project.
Under the agreement signed October 21, 2010, the World Bank, through its multi-donor Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF), will extend a USD 300,000 grant to the project that will be implemented by the United Kingdom-based iRAP and its local partners, including the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP).
The GRSF was established in 2005 to generate funding and technical assistance for global, regional and country level activities designed to accelerate and scale-up the efforts of low- and middle-income countries to build their scientific, technological and managerial capacities to prepare and implement cost-effective road safety programs.
The project will involve inspections on more than 4,000 kilometers of the nation’s major roads, including the nearly 2,000-km Daang Maharlika Highway that stretches from north to south of Manila. The project will also identify cost-effective improvements that could help reduce road deaths and injuries.
The inspections will focus on more than 50 different road design attributes that are known to influence the likelihood of a crash and its severity. These include intersection layout, road cross-sections and markings, roadside hazards, facilities for motorcyclists, and footpaths and safe crossing points.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, DPWH Secretary Mr. Rogello Singson said that the project is the first step towards assessing the safety of the majority of the national roads system in the country by 2016.
Mr. Singson welcomed the iRAP project as a tool to benchmark the safety of national roads against other countries in the region. He said that building a team that will be able to carry out the assessment for the rest of the national roads is a priority of DPWH.
Department of Transport and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Mr. Jose de Jesus said, “The Philippines is taking great strides forward in road safety and we are now planning significant efforts as part of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety from 2011 to 2020. With the iRAP project, we are now focusing on the elimination of high risk roads.”
“The road safety assessment project is expected to contribute to the preparation of an infrastructure investment plan, which will be included in the Philippines’ road safety action plan currently being developed by the DOTC,” he added.
World Bank Philippines Country Director Mr. Bert Hofman said the safety assessment that will be undertaken as part of the project will be vital in ensuring that roads critical to the Philippines’ economic growth, trade, and employment are safe.
“The World Bank is already engaged with DPWH in improving the business processes for the roads sector through the second phase of the National Roads Improvement and Management Project (NRIMP2) towards raising the quality and quantity of road infrastructure in the country. This activity is a very important addition to the Bank’s engagement with the transport sector,” Mr. Hofman added.
The project builds on the success of the GRSF partnership with iRAP in Vietnam, Serbia, Peru and Argentina and the emerging project in India. It will have a strong focus on building national capacity in road safety inspections and assessment.
Mr. Hofman added that the World Bank Global Road Safety Facility and AusAID, being one of its donors in the region, welcome the opportunity to support the Government of the Philippines in the first road safety assessment of its kind in the country.
For his part, iRAP Asia Pacific Regional Director Mr. Greg Smith said that the iRAP Philippines project will use the latest digital imaging technology on more than 4,000km of the nation’s major roads.
“The inspections will help us identify affordable improvements that can dramatically reduce road death and injury. We know, for example, that the provision of flexible posts in the center of the road can significantly reduce head-on crashes,” Mr. Smith said.
He added that road assessment programs are now active in more than 60 countries and have assessed some 400,000km of highways.