Road Safety Kyrgyzstan mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims in Bishkek
More than 1000 people are killed on the road in Kyrgyzstan every year, and many more sustain life-altering and life-limiting injuries. The majority of these incidents occur as a result of preventable behaviours such as speeding, drink-driving, or a failure to use seat-belts or child car restraints.
This year to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, EASST partners PA Road Safety in partnership with PF ProLex, set up in memory of Temir Dzhumakadyrov, organised a series of events in Bishkek to reinforce just how important it is to follow the rules of the road as doing so will save lives!
PA Road Safety kicked off their week of actions with an Instagram campaign, inviting citizens to post videos based on observing the rules of the road. The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness and draw public attention to the consequences of failing to observe these basic rules.
The campaign continued with an action involving local school children and volunteers from the Red Crescent of Kyrgyzstan writing letters to adult drivers and pedestrians and distributing information leaflets urging them to follow the rules of the road. The children were so happy to be involved and feel that they were making a difference in their community, one of the volunteers said that “I’m happy because I saved someone’s life today!”
Following this campaign PA Road Safety held a ‘Public Talks’ event where participants were invited to share their personal stories and ideas on how to improve the situation on the roads in Kyrgyzstan, as well as honour the memory of loved ones they have lost.
Among the stories shared were incredibly touching accounts by Meerim and Nora, who lost loved ones on the road, and the stories of Gulzar, Rosa and Gulzana who were all themselves injured in road traffic crashes.
My name is Gulzana, I am 40 years old. For many years I worked in Almaty to buy an apartment for me and my only daughter. I was going to Bishkek for the funeral of my father, when my colleague and I were involved in a terrible accident. I was in a taxi when, as I remember, I saw the driver’s eyes in the mirror, as if he was falling asleep. I asked him, “Are you falling asleep?” In response I heard “No, no sister, everything is fine, do not worry.” Then I plunged into my thoughts. This is all I remember. I woke up. I was asked for a phone number of who to call. Of course, at that moment I had no idea that my life was now separated between before and after…
BEFORE, when I was independent and walked on my beautiful legs, and AFTER, when I can’t do a lot on my own and I constantly need help. Later I found out that our car had collided with an oncoming bus. Who went into who? I don’t know, and it’s not so important. The driver died on the spot. I can only guess how terrible it all was. I suffered a vertebra injury, punctured lungs, a fracture of seven ribs and a broken leg. First aid was administered to me in the military hospital of Kazakhstan, although I do not know who, I am very grateful to them. After 7-8 hours, my relatives transported me by special ambulance across the border. I underwent a difficult operation in Bishkek which lasted a long time. Since my fracture is not easy, with these pieces of iron, it will take a lifetime to get used to. I lay in hospital for almost three months, it was terrible. I was constantly taken into intensive care, my lungs did not heal for a long time, water accumulated, and every week water was pumped out from between my ribs with a huge syringe. At the moment, from the chest-down I have no sensitivity. If you have seen the movie 1 + 1, there is a moment where one of the characters accidentally douses his foot with boiling water, and I can even prick my foot with needles, I will not feel it. I hope this is all temporary. They say I was lucky, but sometimes it is so hard that I can hardly believe that all this happened to me. When people see me, and you probably think so too, the think that I just cannot walk. But this is the smallest part of everything. Since I did not take an x-ray of my spinal cord, I do not know my prognosis, but I believe that with the help of the Supreme and kind people, I will get up and walk again. Lastly, I want to say that this has all happened because of the need for money. Taxi drivers out on the road are tired from not having slept to earn more money. I don’t blame anyone, but every person who gets behind the wheel should be aware that they are responsible not only for their own life, but also for the lives of passengers and pedestrians … Believe me, all the money in the world is not worth living with the challenges that I, my mother, my daughter and my relatives are going through …
“ I am not an expert in urban planning, road construction, the structure of the traffic police, I just know what it is to lose loved ones. I became involved in road safety issues, because I went through hell, and now I cannot stand aside when others are tormented. I want no woman to wear black, because of mourning, so that parents don’t bury children, and children like mine don’t go without their dad. A road accident has two terrible features. The first is a deadly surprise. You live an ordinary life, you work, you rejoice, you are sad, you are actively promoting something or passively spending time, but most importantly, you plan your life as much as you can, want it and do not depend on external factors. The accident erases everything, just completely, there is no life, there are no plans, there is only memory, and indeed it sometimes fails. The second feature of an accident is scale, no one is insured, there is no vaccination, but if people take medicine for the flu, buy vitamins, fruits, try not to go to public places for a certain period, then there is a very relaxed attitude to accidents. The state is struggling with the consequences, and the population, you and I, do not think about it, it does not concern us, for now…. And then the victims very quickly turn into statistics, you know, like Remarque’s, “the death of one is death, and the death of millions is statistics”. And I do not accept this, my brother is not a statistic, my husband is not a statistic, these are people, these are their stories, these are their lessons, this is their life …
It will seem to someone that everything we and all our friends and partners are doing (promotions, an open microphone, lessons in schools, work in kindergartens) are just small drops, but Moscow was not immediately built and large, beautiful architectural buildings consist of small bricks! I will continue to work. “
The week concluded with a press conference, with presentations from Tasnim Atatra, Acting Representative of the WHO Country Office in Kyrgyzstan; Imanaly Sarkulov, Deputy Head of the Road Traffic Police of the Kyrgyz Republic; Erkin Checheybayev, Deputy Minister of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic; Chinara Kasmambetova, Director of the PA Road Safety; and Nora Suyunaliyeva, Director of PF ProLex.
All participants noted the need for urgent measures to reduce road traffic fatalities and injuries in the Republic. They addressed the role of road infrastructure, human behavior and the problem of implementing state road safety programmes, while calling on the public to remember the victims of road traffic collisions and direct all their efforts to prevent any further tragedy on the roads.
Ms Tasnim Atatrah from the WHO said that,
“The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, I cannot help thinking about more than 1.25 million people who died on the world’s roads this year, tens of millions of received serious injuries, about their loved ones. Most of them were young, full of life and hope. All of them were heading somewhere, but they never arrived, becoming victims of traffic accidents that could have been prevented.”
These activities were organised by PA Road Safety and PF ProLex, set up in memory of Temir Dzhumakadyrov, and implemented in close cooperation with the Road Traffic Police with the support of the OSCE and the UNDP.