One of our Road Safety Consultants, Mark Steventon, recently spent one month in Central Asia, providing road safety advice to Japan Overseas Consultants; part of an international consortium providing consultancy services for the construction of a new transport link to open up the economic corridor between the Kyrgyz Republic and the People's Republic of China.
All of the above factors contribute to an annual rate of nearly 3 fatalities for every 1000 vehicles on the road (compared to less than 0.1 in GB). National statistics show an increase of 57% in the number of road traffic accidents between 1997 and 2007, whilst the number of casualties over the same period rose by 68% and fatalities rose by 83%. Fatalities account for 20% of all recorded road traffic casualties.
Our road safety advice related to a 114km section of proposed new road, which runs along the route of the ancient Silk Road through the mountainous wilderness in the southern region of Kyrgyzstan. The proposal was to upgrade the existing road, which is mostly surfaced in compacted stone and is badly affected by heavy wear, as well as extreme weather conditions and land-shifts.
Despite its appalling condition, the road is heavily used by commercial transport carrying goods between Kyrgyzstan and China. Heavy trucks and cars mix with all kinds of other road users, including mounted shepherds with herds of stock, donkey carts and people and domestic animals wandering through the few small settlements along the road.
Mark was assigned to the project office at the Ministry of Transport and Communications in the capital city, Bishkek, during September and October 2009, where he examined the design drawings of the proposed new road, before visiting the site some 400km away in the largely unpopulated region bordering China.