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BISHKEK (TCA) — On November 10, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sapar Isakov held an emergency Government meeting to discuss the critical situation on the country’s roads.

The Prime Minister signed two Government resolutions, according to which the Main Patrol Police Directorate has been abolished and the Main Directorate for Road Traffic Safety of the Ministry of Internal Affairs will be established. The staff of the new unit will be increased.

“Recruitment of employees should be carried out transparently and on a competitive basis. It is necessary to create a new department of professionals who are not involved in scandals and corruption," he said.

Road accidents record

From November 1 to 9, 2017, 208 road accidents were recorded across the country, in which 42 people were killed and 321 injured. Two accidents, which killed 5 and 10 people respectively, caused a wide public response.

In 10 months of 2017, 5,197 road accidents were registered in the country, in which 695 people died and 7,839 were injured.

“It is vital to understand what is happening on our roads, and what is the reason for so many road accidents in which our compatriots died,” PM Isakov said.

Causes of accidents

Since the beginning of 2017, traffic rules violations have risen 12% compared to 2016.

According to the Patrol Police, the main causes of the accidents were speeding, violation of maneuvering rules, driving along the oncoming lane, violation of the overtaking rules, and drunk driving. The low level of drivers’ training and the low culture of driving were also among the causes of accidents.

Since 2010, the number of vehicles has increased almost 2.5-fold in Kyrgyzstan (from 400 thousand to 1.15 million), Interior Minister Ulan Israilov said. More than 417 thousand vehicles were registered in Bishkek alone.

The number of inexperienced drivers has increased, he added. There were cases when traffic accidents were committed in three or four days after receiving a driver's license. Drivers often do not pass traffic rules tests and simply buy a driver's license.

Urgent measures needed

It is necessary to exclude corruption when obtaining a driver's license, PM Isakov said.

He ordered the Ministry of Education and Science to check all of 223 driving schools operating in the country and proposed creating a single testing center for driver's licenses.

Isakov reminded that on August 30, 2017, the Government approved an Action Plan to reform the road safety system in Kyrgyzstan. He ordered relevant state bodies to conduct a thorough analysis of the Plan’s implementation within a week.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs was tasked to submit a bill providing for toughening of criminal and administrative liability for violation of the Road Traffic Rules.

The government needs money from the state budget to install video cameras on the roads, parliament members say. In Bishkek, the patrol police now use special cars with cameras and equipment to record violations and search for cars that are wanted.

The MPs proposed that the local governments install cameras and that 50% of the fines for violations recorded by such cameras remain in the local budgets, 40% go to the national budget, and 10% be used for technical maintenance of the cameras.

Only one such camera has been installed in the Kudaibergen car market in Bishkek so far.

Improving legislation

According to MPs, traffic jams occur due to the narrowed roadways caused by paid and spontaneous parking on the roadsides. Therefore, MPs have drafted amendments to the Law on Roads to ban parking on the roadsides. The amendments also provide for the creation of pedestrian passes and accessible parking facilities during urban design and construction.

The MPs also drafted amendments providing that the warranty period for new roads be at least five years instead of two years now, and for reconstructed and renovated highways at least three years instead of one year today. The reason for the amendments was the poor quality of newly-built roads.

The amendments provide for strengthening the responsibility of contractors during the construction of highways, improving quality and providing guarantees for timely road maintenance.

MPs believe that the bill will help destroy corruption schemes in the Transport Ministry.

MPs also initiated a bill according to which citizens who report on violations of the traffic rules may receive compensation.

First above-ground pedestrian crossing in Bishkek

On November 9, a solemn opening of the city’s first above-ground pedestrian crossing took place in the Alamedin market area in Bishkek. The intensive and chaotic pedestrian traffic around the market created emergency situations and hampered the traffic flow.

To improve the situation, local authorities have built the above-ground pedestrian bridge at the expense of a Chinese grant. The 33-meter-long crossing is equipped with LED lighting and elevators with a carrying capacity of one thousand kilograms.

The Bishkek city administration plans to build similar pedestrian crossings near the Madina market, at the intersection of Chui Prospect and Abdrakhmanov Street near the Central Department Store (ZUM), and near the Osh market.

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