The road to perdition: road danger and predatory transport policies in Africa
Mark Lamont (The Open University)
Manuel Ramos (ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon)
Manuel João Ramos
Mark Lamont
Start time:
29 June, 2013 at 14:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The proposed panel invites critical perspectives on the massive expansion of transport infrastructures and its cost to road safety policy in Africa, questioning the assumptions of a public health approach to road danger by showing its complex links to predatory economic interests.

Long abstract:

African landscapes and lives are being drastically reshaped by urban and rural investment in the road transport infrastructures and a newly found appetite for road building programmes, and for private motorized vehicle ownership. The political, economic and social impacts of such continent-wide hyper-activity are difficult to gauge but the public health consequences, both in terms of road trauma and pollution-related diseases, are rapidly rising. An indicative measure of the immensity of the problem is the focused humanitarian concerns being expressed by international organisations such as the WHO and the World Bank as to the pressing need to regulate and govern Africa's new automobilities. The inauguration of the UN Decade for Global Action in Road Safety by the UN General Assembly, in 2011, signals the urgent need for national governments to act decisively to reduce the growing rates of road deaths and injuries in most developing countries. As road danger is thus progressively being conceptualized as a public health issue, the prolific usage of medical metaphors outlining the problem as one of "prevention" and "cure" is becoming a mainstream discursive and agential framework for governments, NGOs and international agencies. By inviting researchers specializing in different fields and contexts, the present panel proposes to unpack the present framing of road safety discourse and practice, and analyse how the epidemiological vision being put in place obscures the predatory economics and the poorly regulated transport policies that are bringing about the determinants of what is being seen as a problem of catastrophic proportions.