Proper police enforcement and safer road design are the focus of road safety initiatives currently underway in Moldova. This was the theme of a press conference in Chisinau, the country’s capital, hosted by the World Bank Country Office for Moldova. The conference coincided with a visit by UK and Georgian police delegations to assist the Moldovan Traffic Police to improve their road safety enforcement and practice. The police training programme is being sponsoring by the World Bank with the support of EASST and RoadPOL.

The Moldovan Government has identified the operation of the police – and in particular problems of inadequate equipment, corruption and poor enforcement – as a major obstacle to implementing an effective National Road Safety Strategy. In the Republic of Georgia corruption among the road traffic police has been all but eradicated and both enforcement and morale are healthy. Over the coming months, the Georgian and UK delegates will provide concrete recommendations and assistance to their Moldovan counterparts as a result of this exchange, which will include visits to Tbilisi and the UK.

The Head of the Moldovan Road Police, Gheorghe Botnariuc, gave his full support to the project. Since January 874 traffic accidents had been recorded in which 103 people were killed and 1,112 were injured. This was a great problem for Moldova. “The major violation is speeding… the number of accidents has decreased in comparison with 2009, but this fact is not a reason for calmness,” he said.

Also meeting in Chisinau has been a joint mission comprising the World Bank, European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Commission and the Millennium Challenge Corporation to prepare implementation of a major road rehabilitation programme. A key issue is that of safe road design. At the specific request of the Government of Moldova, the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) has been asked to carry out an inspection of the road network. John Dawson, Chairman of iRAP, highlighted at the press conference the life saving potential of ensuring that Moldova’s new roads have safety built in from the start.

Serghei Diaconu, EASST Partner and road safety advisor to the Minister of State, underlined the government’s determination to ensure the quality of roads, which should conform to best practice in Europe. FIA Foundation Director David Ward echoed this, pointing out that Moldova was a sponsor of the March 2010 United Nations Resolution calling for a Decade of Action on Road Safety. He strongly welcomed the recent creation of a national road safety council and congratulated Prime Minister Filat and Transport Minister Salaru for their clear commitment to road injury prevention.

Hosting the conference Melanie Marlett, the Head of the World Bank in Moldova, said that “the country needs modern and safe roads to connect people to schools, hospitals and build a thriving business environment that would be attractive for foreign investors.” She pointed out that every life lost on Moldova’s roads costs the equivalent of US$ 511,000 to their economy, not to mention the human cost of each life lost and each injured person. She congratulated the government for making road safety a priority.