Examination of Witnesses (Questions 121-148)
Q121 Chair: Good
morning, gentlemen. I am glad that you have introduced yourselves
to each other. As the last evidence session indicated, we recognise
that infrastructure, or the lack of infrastructure and the need
for it, is a crucial part of the development needs of poor and
developing countries, especially but not exclusively in subSaharan
Africa. Even if it is not seen to be one of those subjects that
excites the wider public, it can transform lives. I wonder first
of all, for the record, if you could introduce yourselves and
say who you are.
I am Robert Petts. I am a consultant in the road sector, and
I have worked in developing countries for about 35 years. My
primary interests are in the application of appropriate technology
and use of local resources to achieve a sustainable road sector,
which I think at the moment we are not achieving.
David Ward: Good
morning, Chairman. My name is David Ward. I am the Executive
Secretary of the Commission for Global Road Safety. I am also
Director of the FIA Foundation. The FIA Foundation is a charitable
foundationit has been working for nearly 10 yearsand
we promote road safety and environmental protection in the road
transport sector. The Commission was set up in 2006 under the
patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent and the
chairmanship of Lord Robertson. The main work that we have been
focusing on through the Commission has been the growing road injury
problem, particularly in developing countries, which account for
90% of road fatalities.
We also do quite significant work on environment
issues, and there is quite a crossover. We are supporting something
called the Global Fuel Economy Initiative with the International
Energy Agency and UN Environment Programme. On a similar basis
there is a very strong sustainable transport dimension here, where
increasing road safety will have the cobenefit of improving
the sustainability and environmental effectiveness of road transport.
Q122 Chair: The
Committee, in its visits over the years, has had quite a bit of
experience of roads in developing countries, or the lack of them,
in terms of the traffic, the condition of the traffic, the way
it operates, and obviously the state of the roads themselves.
Indeed, if you look at perhaps the two biggest countries in subSaharan
Africa, Sudan, certainly southern Sudan, and the DRC, the Democratic
Republic of Congo, there are virtually no roads in a huge territory.
I suppose the basic point is: how important do you see the development
of that infrastructure being to the development of the economy
of those countries, and indeed the delivery of even the MDGs,
and how do you think roads compare with other forms of transport?
Ironically, people might say that railways and airports and air
links excite people. Where do roads fit into the infrastructure
David Ward: Do
you want to lead on that?
Yes. If we look at subSaharan Africa, I think we have had
100 years of the motor car age, and 15% of the roads are paved.
Q123 Chair: 15%?
So do we have to wait another couple of hundred years until we
have a fully functioning road network?
Q124 Chair: That
is presumably 15% of a very small length of road. The actual
volume of road is in any case smaller, is it?
I think, if you look at subSaharan Africa, there are about
2,000,000km of roads that are unpaved, and about 300,000km are
paved. This is the current state. You can get from city centre
to city centre quite easily, but once you get off those main routes,
there is a serious problem of allweather access.
David Ward: I
want to just reiterate that. This whole discussion is quite well
evidencebased now. The work of the Africa Commission, and
the work of the Millennium Project, led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs,
identified very clearly the contribution that road infrastructure
can make to achieving the MDGs. That is really unarguable. If
you look at internal costs of trade for many African countries,
the internal costs are huge because of lack of road access to
ports and so on. One can demonstrate very powerfully the economic
effects of road infrastructure to support the development aims
of the region and also achieving MDG goals, even those that you
might call the "soft" investment elements of education
and access to healthcare. All of these things will be increased
by improved road infrastructure. All of that is quite well established
I think in the late 1990s there was a move away from
infrastructure. That was shown to be a mistake. There was a
sense that the private sector would take over in the late 1990s
in increasing infrastructure investment. That did not happen.
Around the mid-2000s and the Gleneagles Summit there was a much
clearer understanding, reflected in the Africa Commission Report,
that infrastructure did matter a great deal, and now we are seeing
quite a substantial increase in road investment.
It is beyond my expertise to discuss the merits of
road versus rail versus air, but one has to confront the extraordinary
reality of the pace of motorisation going on in developing countries
at the moment. In the next decade, and in the decade beyond,
we will see the motor vehicle fleet of the world double, and then
triple. It is happening faster, in fact, than most forecasts
that have been presented. For good or ill, we have to deal with
this huge increase in motorisation, which has many positive benefits
in terms of mobility and economic benefits, but significant costs
as well in road injuries and the environment. It is getting the
balance right in that area that is critical. This is where the
UK has a unique contribution to make, because we are very successful
in road injury prevention, and also we have been quite innovative
in environmental transport initiatives. I think at the moment
we are missing a big opportunity to link that sustainable transport
message with the infrastructure effort of the development community.
Q125 Chair: We
will certainly come on to that. Before we do, who do you think
is taking the lead in delivering on road infrastructure? The
UK is not a major investor in infrastructure, and has limited
road programmes. I am very well aware of the Chinese, Indians
and Japanese, and also the multilateral organisations. Does it
matter? Who are the big players, and where does the UK fit into
that? Where should it fit into that?
The multilaterals lead in the road sector. If you look at the
World Bank, Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank and
the EU, road transport funding is a major part of their programme.
I think for the Asian Development Bank it is up to about 25%
of total funding. It is quite substantial.
Q126 Chair: Sorry
to interrupt, but clearly the UK's contention is that they are
major contributors to these banks.
Robert Petts: Yes.
Q127 Chair: Therefore
they may turn around and say, "That is what we do,"
although as Claire Curtis-Thomas has said, they do not follow
it through, perhaps.
Yes. I would like to add that the @ASLINK@bilateral@AFLINK@,
in the last 10 years, have tended to go away from roads, and especially
rural roads, which is unfortunate. Even there, if you look at
bilateral funding, there is DFID funding going to roads, and funding
from other bilaterals going to roads. I think the total, by my
estimate, is something like $14 billion a year being invested
in roads in developing countries, so it is quite substantial.
The one unfortunate thing with the MDGs is that transport is
not mentioned in the goals, or even in the support mechanisms
to achieve the goals. That has skewed some of the aid away from
transport. There are issues like enterprise development and employment
that transport can contribute considerably to, which are basically
David Ward: I
share that answer. If you take the seven largest development
banks, the World Bank and the regional banks, they are committing
upwards annually around $5 billion a year for road rehabilitation
and new roads. It is a very substantial proportion of their work.
The emphasis on China now is fascinating, because China is becoming
the largest player in this field, particularly in Africa, but
they themselves are struggling with the same problem domestically.
They have, after India, the highest level of road casualties.
The concern that I have is that maybe they have not yet caught
up with the challenges of safe road design. They may be exporting
some of their own problems.
Chair: Bad practices,
David Ward: When
it comes back to this relationship between what DFID should best
do bilaterally versus multilaterally, I think because DFID is
such a significant contributor to the World Bank and the other
major development banks, it can create a very significant multiplier
if it really follows through with the development banks. Last
month, the seven major development banks launched an initiative
on road safety. I can give the Members a copy of the document
they launched. It was launched by President Zoellick on behalf
of the seven banks, committing to a completely new approach to
the road safety aspects of their investment. It is a very significant
initiative, and one which DFID should strongly support, because
it follows through on the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
It is completely crazy that the multilaterals do not share common
road safety impact assessment procedures. At that level there
is a large gap in the way that they work. They should not all
be developing their own systems. They should have a shared system
and a shared commitment to act together. Very often, in some
parts of the world, they are in multipartner projects.
I think that is a very significant opportunity for DFID.
Q128 Mr Gyimah:
You have obviously put your finger on the issue. DFID has only
a handful of roadbuilding programmes internationally, and
in Africa only in the DRC. It would be interesting to get your
views, firstly, on whether DFID is right to be deferring to donors,
especially multilaterals, and what more it could do in the sector.
Alongside that, what are the strengths and weaknesses you see
of roadbuilding programmes carried out by some of these
multilaterals, for example the European Commission?
David Ward: I
think it does make sense. Because of the nature, these tend to
be largescale infrastructure projects, and because they
are often partnerships with other development banks, and indeed
with the private sector as contractors, it does make sense for
DFID to put more weight on the multilateral effort. Also, frankly
speaking, the influence of the World Bank in terms of processes
and procedures in these countries is probably greater than an
individual donor acting on its own. Spreading this across all
the development banks on this harmonised basis that I was referring
toand the Paris Declaration is the key policy framework
for that, agreed in 2005makes a lot of sense. There are
examples I can give you.
The Commission for Global Road Safety published a
report last month, which I will send to you, and there were a
couple of case studies in there from Bangladesh and from Kenya
on the road safety angle, which show the deficiencies that are
occurring with new roads. The sad reality is that very often
new roads are worse in terms of road injury than the old, less
maintained, brokenup roads. An example is the Dhaka to
Sylhet highway, which the World Bank upgraded at a cost of $150,000,000
in a project between 1999 and 2005. After completion, over a
10year period, road deaths have risen by 57%.
Q129 Chair: Is
that because people are driving faster?
David Ward: Very
frequently. There is another example of that in Kenya, which
is specifically, the evidence shows, related to an increase in
speed. That was an EU project of $60,000,000. It was a fairly
small stretch of road on the northern corridor, a 100km
stretch. After the project was completed, road fatalities on
that stretch increased threefold. This is a very common problem.
It is interesting when you look at the project requirements,
the explicit goals very often set out in these projects are to
raise the prevailing speed on the road, paradoxically very often
raising it to a level that guarantees fatality for pedestrians.
There is an example I saw recently in Orissa in India, again
a World Bank project that is being championed as one of their
Good Governance projects. The specific goal is to raise the speed
exactly to the level that guarantees the death of vulnerable road
users. There are no safeguard policies systematically shared
by the development banks to show that it may be important to speed
through the traffic on efficiency grounds, but what you need is
measures that at the same time will show that, if you are going
to increase prevailing speeds, you need to introduce countervailing
measures to ensure that there are separations from vulnerable
road users that are built in at the design stage. This is not
being done systematically, and very often it is presented to countries
as a cost.
I will give you another concrete example, in Moldova.
Moldova is having its entire road network rehabilitated, in a
joint project led by the World Bank, the Millennium Challenge
Corporation, EBRD, EU and so on. I had the opportunity to talk
with the project leaders just a couple of weeks after the firstever
Ministerial Conference on Global Road Safety, where all these
institutions had come and pledged their support. I then asked
them what was happening in Moldova, and they all looked a bit
embarrassed and said, "The road project there has no road
safety component." I said, "How is it possible that
you are signing off on a multimillion dollar road project with
no road safety component?" They said, "The country
never asked." By complete coincidence, to do with the fact
that my wife was until recently the Director of the John Smith
Fellowship Programme, we ended up meeting the Moldovan Foreign
Minister a couple of weeks later, and I had the opportunity to
raise with him this issue. He said at the time: "I remember
signing this agreement, but nobody ever raised road safety with
We looked into it, and it turned out that the whole
way this was presented was, "If you want to increase road
safety, it will cost you this much. It is this many extra barriers:
it is this, that and the other." Not surprisingly, there
was a tradeoff between kilometres rehabilitated versus safety
improvements, presented, I think, in a totally false way, not
emphasising that over the lifetime of this project, the casualty
burden that you will be imposing on the country is in fact a very
significant cost. Fortunately, the Moldovan Government requestedspecifically
as a result of all of thisto reverse this, and now the
project is having the road safety bit put in.
Q130 Mr Gyimah:
Thank you for that. That seems to be a classic issue with any
construction or building project: if you do not ask for it, you
do not get it, and the constructor says, "You never asked
for it. That is why we never built it." What about the
issue of road maintenance? What do you see as the main factors
behind properly maintained and efficient roads, and what programmes
of intervention have you seen that have worked in road building?
Road maintenance is the big outstanding problem for developing
countries. The last contributor was talking about roads being
constructed but with no maintenance capacity in place to maintain
them, and we have to move towards life cycle costing, so that
we do not just look at the initial costs of things. A very important
question to ask is, "Is there a maintenance capacity in place?"
If it is not, you can be sure that that investment will deteriorate
very quickly and will not fulfil what the economists would like
to see us achieve.
Maintenance is a serious issue, and not just on the
main roads, but on tertiary roads and access roads. It is unfortunate
that in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s we, as a sector, promoted the
use of gravel roads, because it was nice and cheap. It gives
you instant improvement, but it is a wasting surface. It is a
very high maintenance surface, and in the majority of cases there
was no funding for maintenance, and there was no capacity to carry
out the maintenance. This is something that has gone against
road transport as a sector: we build bad roads that are not sustainable.
Fortunately, with research that DFID has funded, we have now
documented a whole range of alternatives to gravel, including
natural stone. There are over 20 alternative options. If you
remember in history, we had Telford and McAdam, two great British
engineers with innovative ideas. These techniques are still very
valid for some situations. There are alternatives. The trouble
is that that knowledge has been researched but not rolled out.
David Ward: One
area to look into is, as I mentioned, the explosive growth in
vehicles. There is the classical economic theory of internalising
external costs, and of course motor vehicle growth is occurring
because around developing countries it is very closely linked
to the growing phenomenon of the global middle class, however
you define the global middle class. Essentially, one way of looking
at it is that, as soon as someone has some disposable household
income above looking after their immediate basic needs, what they
tend to do is try to buy greater mobility, and very often that
is in the form of a motorcycle or a vehicle. In the end the solution
lies in capturing some resource from that choice that the community
are adopting, and hypothecating it to road funds that can also
cope with safety. In the long run that will be the only way to
get sustainable resources internally in these countries. Not
so much in the least developed countries, but certainly in middleincome
countries there is ample internal resource, if it can be captured
to that end.
Of course, a big issue that you raised earlier is
the good governance/corruption issue. This is a huge issue within
infrastructure and also in road safety, and it links to issues
of police enforcement, vehicle registration, all those sorts of
areas, as well as the delivery of infrastructure projects. One
of the things that we feel quite strongly is that a better way
of doing road safety auditing and assessment actually helps counter
corruption in road investment projects, because you can engage
with the community much more directly. It is a very important
thing to do. One slight concern I have about allowing engineers
and civil engineers to dominate this whole area is that there
is a tendency to grab the standards off the shelf, build the roads,
and not properly engage with the communities that will be living
around them. Too often you see upgraded roads that drive right
through villages, and they do not bother to consult about where
the local market likes to situate itself, and where people do
like to cross roads, and how you handle that. If you engage in
a very transparent and accountable way, through public consultation,
you help mechanisms to resist corruption, because you have engaged
very transparently in that process. In terms of resourcing, I
think my colleague was absolutely right that, in the whole MDG
process, transport was a missing link and has fallen through the
cracks. One of the ways of putting it back is to integrate it
into other policy areas. The whole agenda of good governance
is very relevant to all of this infrastructure agenda and to sustainable
Q131 Mr Gyimah:
Just one final question. You are right that transport is the
missing link as far as the MDGs are concerned, but the physical
lack of roads is more of an issue for rural rather than urban
dwellers. What do you see as the main challenges as far as building
rural roads are concerned? That is where you can really make
a difference, presumably, in delivering some of the MDGs.
The issue of technology transfer is a big issue. We build our
roads in a certain way in the West because our labour is very
expensive and credit is very cheap. That is the inverse in developing
countries. The local private sector, even, has great difficulty
in accessing credit. If it does, it may be 20% or more. Labour
can be between $1 and $10 a day. The whole basis of our engineering
is different, and unfortunately not many people appreciate that.
The approaches that we use may be very appropriate for main roads
in developing countries, where you want to invest quickly and
get the job done quickly. But for rural roads, it is totally
The big sophisticated machinery that is used for
big roads is very difficult to support in rural areas. If you
travel around Africa you will see graveyards of public works departments
with vehicles and equipment just lying there. There are alternatives.
We can use labour. We can use tractor equipment. Tractors have
a lot of uses in the road sector. We can build roads with them.
We can maintain them. They are much cheaper than heavy plant,
so with a combination of labour and tractor equipment we could
solve the problems of rural road building, especially in Africa.
The techniques are proven, but again I come to this
point that that knowledge is not rolled out. People are not aware
of it: there is no training and no demonstration in these techniques,
and in overall terms, if we go in and build a traditional bitumen
road, as we know it here, it will cost $100,000 to $500,000 a
kilometre. We can go in and build, using these alternative surfaces,
even engineered earth roads, put in appropriate structures, and
we can build roads for $10,000 a kilometre, using the local community
and using local labour. There are options there, but as I say,
the knowledge is not rolled out.
David Ward: I
would be a little uncomfortable about saying that one was more
important than the other. The reality is that half of the world
is now living in urban environments, and that is becoming more
and more the case. Of course there is a linkage between these
two things, because sustainable cities are an essential task to
try to promote. You only need to visit those, as I am sure you
do, to see the levels of congestion and chaos and significant
road injury to vulnerable road users, pedestrians and so on, particularly
children in Africa. On the other hand, if rural areas are, from
a transport point of view, regarded as backwaters, it in some
ways accentuates the drive towards urban lifestyles. I do not
think that it is good to juxtapose one against the other. You
have to do both, unfortunately.
Q132 Jeremy Lefroy:
One thing that has often distressed me in seeing the construction
of roads in developing countries is the approach to the property
beside the roads. What has often happened is that people have
been sold plots by the wealthy or the local government officials,
perhaps, which are actually within the road reserve. They are
then marked with a red cross and knocked down without any compensation.
To me, there are some basic human rights being affected here.
You have people who thought that they were buying a plot of land.
They put all their worldly goods into building a small house,
and the Government comes along, knocks it down, pays them no compensation,
and they are left completely destitute. I have seen that done
by Western contractors with Western money. Is there any way in
which we can guard against that, particularly where titles have
been given by authorities, or certainly by powerful people, whom
the poor thought were legitimately entitled to give those titles?
Yes. As you say, this should not happen with our money.
Q133 Jeremy Lefroy:
Yes, it does, and it is very difficult. I think that there is
an argument for stronger postproject audit of issues like
this, so that at least people think twice about doing it beforehand.
I feel that the road sector has a bad reputation for corruption,
that there is not sufficient transparency. I would say that multilateral
agencies need to spend more resources on postproject audit
to actually see if the development aims were met, whether it was
costeffective, and whether it was value for money. These
sorts of issues, taking people's property, should come into consideration.
Jeremy Lefroy: Right.
David Ward: I
agree with where you are going, but I think it needs to be very
broad. What I feel most emotional about, when you look at the
violation of fundamental human rights, is when we either directly
or through a multilateral bank have "improved" a road
where schoolchildren have to run the gauntlet every morning and
every afternoon. That is an incredible violation of both MDG
goals of getting to school and education. We have made a very
powerful film, which I would urge you to have a look at, with
Kevin Watkins, in Nairobi. He sits in a classroom with a small
number of schoolchildren, and says: "How many of you have
been involved in a road crash?" Threequarters of them
put their hand up. It is breathtaking. I think we have to broaden
this whole agenda in terms of what we are doing with our money,
whether it is multilaterally or bilaterally, to ensure that we
do not cause this incredible harm, whether it is stealing property
or stealing lives.
Q134 Jeremy Lefroy:
In your experience, do these projects tend to give sufficient
attention to local employment, whether rural roads or trunk roads?
Are there benefits for the poorest? You have just referred to
the importance of road safety for school children, but are there
On the main road projects it is very difficult to incorporate
what I would call a labourintensive approach. These are
large projects. They are wanted very quickly. Recruiting and
training up labour in an African environment
Q135 Jeremy Lefroy:
What about project management, as opposed to employing lots of
people? On the major roads, you have the opportunity for project
management and engineering skills to be transferred.
Yes, most certainly. Those are skills that are needed in developing
countries. Where most people look to create employment is in
the labouring and skilled trades. For instance you can look at
the simple act of putting in a structure. The whole sector usually
puts in a reinforced concrete structure. In that case, you have
to bring in shuttering skills, usually from the capital city,
and steel fixing skills, usually from the capital city, whereas
in most communities there are masons who could build with stone
or brick. These options are not allowed in the national specifications.
That opportunity for creating local employment is missed.
Q136 Jeremy Lefroy:
One thing that occurs to me, and I am certainly no engineer,
is that in developing countries you have very intensive rainfall,
and clearly the roads need to take that into account. Certainly
the roads that I have seen recently have been better able to take
water away quickly than some of the ones I have seen in the past.
I remember one particular rural road project where they were
destroyed within three months, simply because their capacity to
remove surface water was inadequate. I have often felt that the
opportunity for creating local water reservoirs or dams coming
off these major infrastructure projects is not used. There are
places where you see these massive quantities of water coming
off during the rainy season. The water goes away and is not captured,
and then during the dry season, particularly in rural areas, you
have missed the opportunity for having, effectively, rural reservoirs
for livestock or even for a village water supply. I have not
seen the two, the water and the road sector, work together very
much. I do not know if that is pie in the sky.
No, I think that historically you are right. There is a move
towards trying to consult with the community on what additional
facilities could be put in. You have this opportunity with a
contractor coming in with skills. They are road skills, but they
are basically infrastructure building skills. This opportunity
can be taken to add small dams and water harvesting facilities.
This really comes down to the brief for the designer. I think
that it is quite a simple step to take, but it comes back to whoever
is funding the project, whether it is the national Government
or the aid donor or the multilateral agency. What do they want
to include in the package? I would say that it is a fairly easy
step to make.
Q137 Hugh Bayley:
Listening to what you have had to say about sustainability and
what Claire Curtis-Thomas was saying earlier about that and about
town planning, it seems to me that there is a mindset in Africa
certainly where the public sector tips in huge sums of money,
thousands or millions of dollars in road building, but there is
no attempt to obtain a rent from businesses, or from those using
the services of the road, which would possibly pay for upkeep.
I do not expect a small rural farmer, who is bringing his beans
or maize to market, to pay a rent, but a brewery or a paint factory
might. What opportunities are there to allow those who use the
roads, and who profit from using the roads, to make a contribution
to road building and road upkeep?
I have seen various attempts at tolls on rural roads, and they
just do not work. It is basically very corruptible, and the amount
of money raised is not sufficient to even carry out basic maintenance
in most cases.
Q138 Hugh Bayley:
But if you build a housing estate in Britain, as a developer
you are required to put in roads to certain standards.
Robert Petts: Yes.
Q139 Hugh Bayley:
So if somebody is developing an industrial estate, for instance,
is it feasible and practical for some public body to require infrastructure
to be provided? In the UK, planners would require a developer
to pay a sum of money for infrastructure development. It might
be building a local school. It might be many things.
In the urban situation, that is quite feasible. My work is mostly
in rural areas, and the rural poor just have no capacity to pay
for anything much. They are living day to day, hand to mouth.
Where I think that there is capacity or potential to lower costs
and involve them is by sitting down with them. If you sit down
with a rural community, normally roads are the first priority
that they want. They want an allweather road. Do they
have anything to pay for it? No, but they have their labour.
If you look at Vietnam, a very successful developing country,
there is a law that states that either 10 or 12 days per year
have to be donated by each adult to community works, and it usually
goes into roads. That to me is a system that avoids taxation,
if you like: you give your labour instead. There are examples
I think that there is a lot of potential. If you
look at the rural road situation, what do you need? You need
skills. You need materials. Materials are locally available.
You need labour and maybe a little bit of equipment. The local
labour could be provided, either voluntarily or at a subsidised
rate by the community. Maybe a local trader, a well-wisher or
an NGO could provide the equipment. You could develop a system
for rural roads that is a partnership to achieve lowcost,
Q140 Hugh Bayley:
Turning to road safety, over and over again you have said, "Why
is this not built into road construction?" You used the
interesting example of Moldova, but are there examples of developing
countries that have been able to reduce the number of injuries
and fatalities on the roads?
David Ward: Yes,
definitely. Of course it is difficult to separate out. Classically,
road injuries occur within a dynamic system of what the road user
is doing, what the vehicle is doing in terms of safety, and what
the road can do. The perfect system is when the roads are forgiving
of human error, errors are limited because road users are behaving
quite sensibly, and the vehicle offers the maximum crash avoidance
potential, and so on. In countries that get a grip on that, it
offers huge benefits. We are one, and famously also the Swedes,
now, who have a fatality rate of three per 100,000. In South
Africa it is 33 per 100,000, just to give you a range.
Last week we launched the first ever United Nations
Decade of Action for Road Safety. I am very proud that the Commission
proposed this first and persuaded the UN to adopt it. Countries
are now taking action. Vietnam is one example. It is not in infrastructure
but Vietnam has pioneered helmet-wearing legislation, and enforced
it and had a 14% reduction in fatalities. Seatbelt wearing in
Costa Rica is another example. Malaysia, for example, is investing
a lot in improved road infrastructure. One example is a major
road in Kuala Lumpur. They have created a dedicated motorcycle
lane, so that all of the twowheeler transport does not mix
at all with the fourwheel transport. On that stretch of
road, there was an 80% reduction in injuries. You can, by design,
gain these sorts of improvements.
Coming back to the funding point, I think that in
urban environments there is scope to capture resource from users.
I was in Nairobi last week, looking at the Chinese building flyovers.
Nairobi will be transformed over the next few years because of
Chinesebuilt flyovers. Flyovers are easily chargeable with
tolling technology, and I think the elites in these countries
are extremely frustrated about their traffic jams. I think that
you will reach a tipping point. The congestion in Nairobi is
stunning. You will reach a point where they will say: "Yes,
I would like to have a bit of road charging to manage this flow."
There are huge urban planning issues. I come back to the point
that infrastructure and sustainable transport should be an area
that DFID takes seriously. It needs to resource that expertise
in a sensible way within the headquarters so that it can effectively
guide the work of the multilaterals, where we put a lot of resource
in, to make sure that they are transferring that approach in their
countrybycountry loan programmes.
Q141 Hugh Bayley:
Are the Chinese better than Western donors on building infrastructure
to standards that reduce road accidents?
David Ward: I
fear not. As I said, in terms of road injuries, China has the
second worst fatality rate in the world. At the moment, in human
history we are doing something unprecedented. We are doubling
the vehicle fleet in the shortest timespan that the human being
has ever experienced. These countries are experiencing environmental
and road safety impacts of rapid motorisation that we took 30
or 40 years to cope with. They are compressing it into 10 years.
China is the most spectacular. I was there in December, and
in Beijing you no longer see bicycles. It is a modern, industrial
city, full of cars and massive traffic jams.
Q142 Chair: The
difficulty is that you do not see very much at all, because of
David Ward: Exactly.
Air quality and all of these issues come together around the
issue of sustainable transport. Infrastructure, defined broadly,
needs to gets all of these issues right. It is a huge challenge.
For climate change reasons, environmental reasons and good governance
reasons, the UK should be doing a lot more.
Q143 Hugh Bayley:
I will tell you what frustrates me. There is a lot of handwringing
going on here. We are saying that we are very bad with our own
development projects, we are not transferring knowledge, there
is not enough priority given by ministers in developing countries
to road safety. The situation, you have just told us, is going
to get worse, at least in terms of traffic volumes. What steps
should be taken by donors and by incountry Governments if
they wanted to increase road safety?
David Ward: We
are reaching an interesting tipping point. A lot of countries
did not take this issue seriously, because it was all invisible.
I think that is changing now. It is interesting in a country
like Bangladesh: if you go and look at the newspapers in Bangladesh,
every single day there is a report of a road injury. Recently
they lost quite a senior minister in a road crash. It is affecting
the elites, so you are seeing a changed attitude. Last year,
when we got the UN General Assembly to debate this issue of a
decade, the resolution was sponsored by 100 countries. That is
more or less a record in terms of UN endorsement. We have been
very pleased with that. We proposed the Ministerial Conference
in 2009. At that Ministerial Conference, the atmosphere was extraordinary.
We had 80 countries, 80 ministers show up. There is a new interest
in this problem, and the donor community is catching up with what
is going on on the ground. It is the first time ever, for instance,
that the President of the World Bank has addressed this issue
specifically, at a meeting with all the other development banks,
in Washington last month. We are seeing a whole new level of
interest in this, and I think there does need to be a catchup.
The good news is that there is a lot of positive experience around.
This is a solvable problem to a large degree. That is why it
is extremely important that the UK does commit to it.
On the theme of hand-wringing and moaning, I cannot
escape without raising a pretty considerable concern. In 2009,
the UK Government came to the Moscow Ministerial Conference, the
first ever Ministerial Conference on this subject, and made a
very modest pledge from DFID, jointly agreed with the Department
for Transport, of £1,500,000 to the World Bank Global Road
Safety Facility, which is coordinating this multidonor effort.
Because the UK was making that specific donor pledge, it was
given pride of place in that plenary opening, accompanied by President
Medvedev and all the restt. It was a very impressive commitment.
The UK Government has failed to honour that pledge. At that
time I was chairing the World Bank Facility, as we were one of
the donors to it. DFID took over from me as Chairman and has
failed to send any civil servant to attend the meetings. We had
a meeting in Washington last month, and there was nobody from
DFID there. They are reassessing this commitment. I find
it quite astonishing, in the context where DFID has no cuts, that
the new Government is even reviewing this. How can you go to
an international conference on a subject like this, make a commitment
like that, and then forget about it because of the change of Government?
Q144 Chair: Have
they given any indication as to why they have not followed up?
David Ward: They
are reviewing their policy priorities. It seems to me extraordinary.
This is to the multilaterals. It is £1.5 million, so it
is a small amount of money, but it would help to energise this
process of the MDB initiative. It is exactly in line with the
Paris Declaration: in fact it is trying to get more value for
money out of our contribution to the multilaterals. Yet DFID,
in its wisdom, has decided to reconsider something that it made
as a public commitment. This surprising even in terms of our bilateral
relationship with Russia andDavid Cameron is going to visit Russia,
and the Russians were enormously proud of this conference. They
hosted it, drawing attention to the fact that they have a huge
road injury problem of 25 fatalities per 100,000.
Q145 Chair: Obviously
the Government is closing down its Russia programme, and I wonder
whether there is some confusion within the mind of DFID that this
is focused in an area where they are closing the programme down.
I think that what you have identified obviously is something
that the Committee can take up directly with the Department.
David Ward: Can
I just say that I think the problem is that internally they have
not worked out the proper role of infrastructure in development?
It is as simple as that. They have not worked out importance
of infrastructure, and are not seeing it in this wider remit,
contributing to the MDGs and so on. It is not that we should
necessarily be taking a lead bilaterally, but we should be taking
a lead in policy and agendasetting within the MDBs.
Q146 Chair: You
have basically answered that section. I just wanted to check
something before I bring Hugh Bayley back in. You seem to be
implying two things. One is that DFID maybe should consider doing
some direct projects, where it can demonstrate some degree of
expertise in road safetynot necessarily on a large scale,
but enough to influence. The second is that they should use their
substantial influence over multilaterals to exact standards.
Just in passing, the £1.5 million in there is part of that.
Is that a fair summary of what you think they could do?
David Ward: Absolutely,
Q147 Hugh Bayley:
I just have a last couple of questions to you, Mr Petts. Can
you say what you think the key achievements have been of the AFCAP
I have been on the periphery of the programme. AFCAP is a programme
looking at rural access and at road transport access for a number
of African countries. One of the major projects within AFCAP
has been to totally revise the standards for roads in Ethiopia.
This is something that a number of African countries are saddled
with: they have standards, specifications and procedures that
were largely inherited from colonial times. The problem there
is that in those times, of course, equipment was relatively cheap.
Fuel was cheap. Bitumen was cheap. The parameters are very
different now. AFCAP's role in totally overhauling the manuals
is close to completion. I think it is very important. It is
something that needs to be done in a lot of other African countries.
It has been a very collaborative operation between the local
experts and international experts, which is very important in
any development project. I cannot speak for the other AFCAP projects,
because I am not aware of them.
The fear I have, and hear in feedback from colleagues
in national road authorities, is that there is not a clear future
of the sort of research work that DFID has been doing. AFCAP
has a horizon of two years to run now. There is no other knowledge
generation and management programme. That is a pity because DFID,
ODA before it, and its predecessors have spent over £100,000,000
on transport knowledge research, and there is a great fear amongst
the people out in the countries that that knowledge is not being
protected or rolled out. This is one of the issues that I would
suggest the Committee should look at.
Q148 Hugh Bayley:
Should funding in this area of transport knowledge continue after
2013, and if so is AFCAP the right channel for funding?
AFCAP is basically generating knowledge. It is compiling it.
There is a whole process. Those are the first two steps. You
then need to disseminate the knowledge so that everybody can get
access to it. That is not just via website but in hard copy.
That needs to be addressed. Then there is the whole issue of
making people aware, and accepting it. Often you cannot just
plug the knowledge in and use it. You have to adapt it to local
conditions. You have to train for the new processes, because
the road sector, like any other sector, is resistant to change.
You need this whole process of acceptance, training, demonstration
of good practice, and then final embedment. DFID in the past
have been the foremost international agency in creating knowledge
on safety and on all aspects of roads and transport in developing
countries. The other agencies recognise this, but my fear, and
the fear of a lot of stakeholders in the sector, is that DFID
are moving away from it, and that post2013 there is nobody
to carry on.
Chair: Can I thank both
of you for your evidence? You have helped focus both on the quality
of infrastructure and the road safety dimensions and how important
they are, and specific roles that DFID could usefully play that
they are not currently doing, or where there has been a little
bit of backsliding as well. I think it is very helpful. The
Committee will openly admit that this is an area in which no Member
of the Committee claims to have any great expertise, but we do
appreciate that it is perhaps an underreported and underappreciated
dimension of development that it is right for us to examine.
Can I thank both of you very much indeed for coming along, for
the written evidence you have given us, and also your oral evidence?
I think it has helped us a great deal. As I said at the outset,
we do experience roads in developing countries, and indeed in
all cases have had some quite interesting experiences, which make
you realise just how difficult and unsafe those conditions sometimes
are. Thank you very much indeed. I think it has been very helpful.
David Ward: Mr
Chairman, thank you very much.