JAMAICA will play host to the first International Road Safety (IRS) Caribbean Regional Congress scheduled for the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel in Montego Bay from May 8 - 11, 2012.
At the event over 150 regional and international professionals are expected to discuss and offer solutions to the growing infrastructural needs of the Caribbean states.
Kenute Hare — director of the Road Safety Unit (RSU) in the Ministry of Transport, Work and Housing — said Jamaica was selected as the location based on the government's consistent commitment and work in the area of road safety.
"Jamaica has a lot of systems and processes in place for road safety that many other countries do not have... be it legislation or even breathalyser tests," he told Auto.
"We have a national transport policy that guides road safety," he continued.
The Congress intends to focus on road safety and transportation asset management. Featured speakers are expected to include Dr Omar Davies, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing; Jorge Duran, Chief of Science, Technology and Innovation, Organisation of American States; Ben Gericke, lead transport specialist, World Bank; Alejandro Pablo Taddia, lead transport specialist, Inter-American Development Bank; Ivor Daniel, deputy permanent secretary, Ministry of Infrastructure, Port Services and Transport in St Lucia; Sharmaine Roland-Bowen, president of The Barbados Road Safety Association, and Paula Fletcher, Executive Director National Road Safety Council, Jamaica.
According to the RSU director, Jamaica has numerous stakeholders which are 'committed to the cause'. These include: Ministry of Transport and Works; Ministry of Local Government; Ministry of Education; Ministry of National Security; Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA); and Jamaica Automobile Association.
"They are all committed to bringing the death toll on the island's roadway below 300 and they all sit on the National Road Safety Council, which is chaired by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller," he said.
Below 300 Campaign is an initiative launched by the National Road Safety Council, which is geared at keeping road fatalities below the 300 mark. However, this has not been achieved since 1999 when there were 295 deaths. Last year, the toll was 307.
"It's an ongoing process and we have made some grounds that can help us to achieve the Below the 300 mark," Hare said.