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Alternative financing for road safety interventions

In the realm of transportation infrastructure, road safety stands as a paramount concern, affecting hundreds of lives in our country each year.

However, despite its critical importance, funding for road safety interventions often faces significant hurdles. Unlike projects with clear revenue streams or immediate economic returns, investments in road safety infrastructure are typically viewed as long-term initiatives with uncertain profitability.

Consequently, securing traditional or mainstream funding for these interventions can be challenging. Government, burdened by competing budgetary priorities, may struggle to allocate sufficient funds to comprehensive road safety initiatives. Limited resources often lead to piece-meal approaches, focusing on reactive measures rather than proactive, holistic solutions and as a result, road safety continues to be a global public health crisis.

Unlike road tolls or public transport, which offer tangible revenue streams, the benefits of road safety improvements are often intangible and accrue over time. This makes it difficult to attract funding from conventional sources such as government budgets or private investors.

The above withstanding, we need to explore alternative financing mechanisms to bridge this funding gap and prioritize road safety. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have emerged as a promising model for financing infrastructure projects, including road safety interventions.

By leveraging private sector expertise and capital, government can mobilize resources more efficiently and accelerate the implementation of safety measures. Through risk and responsibility sharing, PPPs attract private investment while ensuring public oversight and accountability, fostering sustainable road safety initiatives.

The concept of impact investing (a strategy that aims to generate specific beneficial social or environmental effects in addition to financial gains) goes beyond traditional investing by considering a company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) & its duty to positively serve society as a whole.

It has gained traction in the realm of sustainable transport and road safety as impact investors seek to make social and environmental gains and hence becoming ideal partners for funding initiatives that prioritize safety and sustainability. By aligning their investment strategies with road safety goals, impact investors can catalyze innovation and drive positive change in transportation infrastructure.

While alternative financing holds promise for addressing road safety challenges, realizing its full potential requires concerted efforts from stakeholders across sectors through:

• Policy and Regulatory Support: Government must create an enabling environment for alternative financing mechanisms through supportive policies, legal frameworks, and regulatory incentives. Clear guidelines and standards will enhance transparency, mitigate risks, and attract investors to road safety initiatives.

• Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: Collaboration among sectors, multilateral agencies, civil society organizations, and the private sector is essential for sharing best practices, lessons learned, and innovative financing models. By pooling resources and expertise, stakeholders will accelerate progress towards safer roads country-wide.

• Impact Measurement and Evaluation: Robust monitoring and evaluation frameworks are crucial for assessing the effectiveness and impact of road safety interventions financed through alternative mechanisms. By tracking outcomes and measuring social, economic, and environmental benefits, stakeholders will optimize resource allocation and improve accountability.

• Community Engagement and Participation: Meaningful engagement with communities, including vulnerable road users & persons with disabilities (planning with them and for them) is essential for designing context-specific interventions that address local needs and priorities. Empowering communities to participate in decision-making processes enhances ownership and sustainability of interventions.

• Advocacy and Awareness: Raising awareness about the social and economic costs of road traffic injuries and fatalities is critical for mobilizing support and resources for road safety interventions. Advocacy efforts mobilize political will, galvanize public action, and drive investment in life-saving measures.

In conclusion, while traditional funding for road safety interventions may be limited, alternative financing mechanisms offer promising solutions to address this challenge and a variety of approaches can mobilize resources and support sustainable transport and road safety initiatives.

The importance of road safety transcends short-term profit considerations, demanding concerted efforts to mobilize resources and implement effective interventions.

By harnessing the power of innovation and collaboration, and embracing alternative financing solutions and prioritizing human life over immediate profits we will pave the way for safer roads in our cities.

The author is coordinator, Bloomberg Road Safety Project KCCA

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