Op-Ed: Requirement of Good PavementPolicy for Public Safety in Yangon Walking on the roadside withoutplatform is not easy for the public.
For all ages as well as disable people,this becomes a haunting issue in daily life of pedestrians. Not even thestreets, most of the roads in Yangon lack pavements. So, how public life couldbe safe in this situation? Since the traffic problem in Yangonraises, the government widened the roads especially main roads by demolishingthe platforms. Even JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) spokesmanNakamasahi told media in interview that the government should not considersolution for traffic problem in that way (1 January 2015, 7dailynews Journal).However, the local government constructed newly paved roads and widen roadswhich leads to lacking of platform in some roads. Besides, obviously there is nodistinct policy for platform in the road construction policy and road safetypolicy in Yangon. For road construction, the government mostly focus on unpavedroads which are numerous and needed to be paved.
For road safety policy, thegovernment only pays attention to the vehicle safety standards, regulations andenforcement and drivers’ abilities. For platform policy, apparently there areplatforms only in most crowded and economic strategic places like junctions,downtowns and near important offices. For the other areas, there are only fewsor one sided platforms and others are also under the width standard.Furthermore, there are some platforms which are very old and unsafe to walk.
However there is no such distinct policy for platform constructions, designsand maintenance inclusively all over theYangon. Here, pedestrians and bikeplan could be imposed as one of the platform policies. Pedestrians as well asbikers need lanes and platforms. By supporting those platforms and lanes, itcan improve the safety of people and reduce the risk of accidents. Besides,safe cycling can also bring to reduce pollution or amounts of cars on roads.
Thebenefits are not only for specific improvements but also for frameworkimprovement. It can reduce speeding by it’s well designed and managed roads.Standard pavements , cross walks and bridges which are stated in this policywill reduce the injuries and deaths. Bicycle lanes system that recommend in thepedestrians policy guaranties more safety and time to travel. This fact willattract many civilians to join the system and then it will reduce the usingmortal vehicles.
However, this policy, especially policy for lanes can’t be implemented due to the cost andnarrow width of roads in Yangon. Another effective Complete Street Policy isFocus Plan which means specific plans for the specific sectors or regions. Thestrategy fact of the policy is affecting the system effectively due to regionalneeds. Also Demographic Population scope becomes smaller to control the systemeffectively so that the policy plan could be brought into action with limitedcost and implementing small area. However, there is also weakness in thepolicy. When the policy tends into demographic scope, there are also questionsof which area or region should be implemented or take into action and the loseof accountability than the city wide policy.
However, I prefer this Focus Plan thancity wide plans or pedestrians and bikes plan since this can be started withsmall scope and costs. In2017, over 500 people in Yangon are dead due to the traffic accidents (8 November,2017, Coconuts Yangon). In this index, the pedestrians who walks not on theplatforms but on the roads also scarified their lives for nothing. On 27thNovember, 2017, one students died even in the Western Yangon Universitycompound in an accident. That student just stood at the roadside and there wascar accident. There is even no platform. In Yangon, even the universities sufferthe lack of platforms and unqualified dangerous old platforms. The need of platform policy andimplementation should not be taken out of sight of the local government.
Pedestriansare always chasing by unwelcome death while walking. Children, students, workers,civil servants and others are out there on the roads and that is the place wherethe local government need to give safety and freedom from fear of death.