Zambia: Empowering a Mayor to successfully advocate for low speed streets

Zambia: Empowering a Mayor to successfully advocate for low speed streets

Daniel Mwamba and his colleagues at the Zambia Road Safety Trust have worked tirelessly to position the Mayor of Lusaka, Miles Sampa, as a strong advocate for low speed streets in his City. By naming him a Road Safety Ambassador and arming him with the technical knowledge needed to make a persuasive case, Mr Sampa has been able to successfully advocate towards the national government for legislation to slow down the City’s streets.

 

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Mayor of Lusaka Miles Sampa

These efforts culminated in the new “Road Traffic (Speed Limits) Regulations, 2020”, which were adopted in January 2020. Among the regulations include setting 30 km/h as the default speed limit around schools and other zones with a high number of pedestrians and setting a maximum 40 km/h speed limit on other urban streets. This regulation is applicable not only in Lusaka, but in cities across the country. Above all, this is a major achievement for children, who will be better protected on their routes to and from school.

Of course, such gains were not made overnight. In fact, this effort, which has in recent years benefitted from the support of Vital Strategies and Amend as part of the Partnership for Healthy Cities – itself a collaboration between Bloomberg Philanthropies, the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies – began four years ago. Understanding the impact of data, the Zambia Road Safety Trust has made use of periodic surveys documenting traffic levels and demonstrating an average speed around schools in Lusaka of around 50 km/h.

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safe school crossing in Lusaka

By fostering Mr Sampa’s involvement in focus group discussions with school headteachers and colleagues from NGOs such as Save the Children and UN agencies; awareness-raising campaigns in print and broadcast media; and persistent crusading of the issue towards the Minister of Transport and Communications, the Zambia Road Safety Trust has worked behind the scenes to contribute to this success.

Of course, the real challenges lie ahead. Since the new regulations were signed into effect, 30 km/h speed limit signs have been posted around eighteen primary schools in Lusaka. Much more work needs to be done to expand signage, rebuild infrastructure like crosswalks around schools, put in place crossing protocols, and, above all, ensure that the new speed limits are effectively enforced. This involves continued collaboration with school authorities, the police and the national government. Additional awareness-raising campaigns will ensure that the public knows the new regulations, understands their importance, and acts accordingly to save young lives. While Mr Sampa will continue to be the face of these efforts, Mr Mwamba and his team at the Zambia Road Safety Trust will continue to make sure he has what he needs to get the job done.

 

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30 km/h speed limit sign in Lusaka