Development makes you feel unsafe in Seychelles

Earlier this month, Seychelles, one of Africa’s Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was voted Country Destination of the Year by the UK-based publication, the Luxury Travel Guide, a recognition of the growth of the country’s tourism industry which has in part driven the archipelago up the income ladder. Seychelles graduated to the status of ‘High-Income’ country within the World Bank classification in July.

Seychelles, with its 115 islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, has become a popular tourist destination. However, investment in tourism is not the only reason for Seychelles’s new status; the country’s economic growth rides on a combination of factors, most notably the diversification of the economy. With improvement in *Gross National Income per capita (GNI) which is now in the $12,736 or more bracket, Seychelles is now in the league of 83 nations on the World Bank’s ‘high income’ list.

Growth comes at a price. In the opening remarks by Seychelles at the 2nd UN High-Level Conference on Road Safety meeting in Brazilia on November 18, 2015, Ambassador Barry Faure, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who represented Minister for Foreign Affairs and Transport Joël Morgan, said: “Economic stability leads to greater buying power which inevitably leads to a list of other factors exemplified by a surge in the number of vehicles in the country, increase in the abuse of drugs and alcohol, and a substantial growth in the ownership of notable devices inclusive of cell phones. These, and more, are reasons why roads are increasingly becoming unsafe.”

To address road safety issues in the island state, Ambassador Faure said various measures were being implemented to curb road accidents and fatalities. These include the recent setting up of a multi-stakeholder committee charged with the implementation of the Road Safety Policy.

Earlier in the year, the country also set up a Fast-Track Court for traffic and environment offences to address cases that fall under the Road Transport Act, Environment Protection Act and Fixed Penalty Minor Offences legislation. Offences from drunken driving, speeding and failure to wear seatbelts as well as environment-related offences committed in Seychelles are expected to be dealt with in a more efficient and timely manner with the establishment of the court.

Ambassador Faure also told the meeting that further measures taken were equipping Police with Alcometers (Breathalysers) to test alcohol in drivers, Portable Laser Speed Guns for speed detection. The country also plans to provide Portable Speed Cameras which will help the enforcement side better; revise the Road Transport Regulations to align them to the 5 pillars of road safety established by UN; and to introduce a new computerized Accident Data Recording and Analysis system in 2016. This will help significantly in recording accidents and analyzing them.

The UN High-Level Conference on Road Safety is being attended by approximately 2000 participants from over 130 countries. It will seek to outline the commitments of member states towards improving road safety by 2020, as well as implementing the relevant goals and targets of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.

* Gross National Income (GNI) is a broad-based measure of income generated by a nation’s residents from international and domestic activity. GNI per capita measures the average amount of resources available to persons residing in a given economy, and reflects the average economic well-being of a population.