Located in Central Asia on the shores of the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan is the upper-middle-income country with the population of 5.4 million and per capita income of $ 6,948 (World Bank, 2015). According to the WHO estimate, Turkmenistan suffers from 900 road fatalities annually and based on data from the Turkmenistan Traffic Police, passengers and drivers of 4-wheeled cars represent 42% and 33% respectively of total fatalities on the road. According to the WHO data, Turkmenistan’s national seat-belt law is strong, but laws addressing other top risk factors (drink driving, speeding, child seats, and helmets) need further enforcement. Turkmenistan is a contracting party two of six UN Road Safety Conventions: the 1968 Road Traffic Convention and the 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals.
In addition to attending the Global Sustainable Transport Conference, the Special Envoy held meetings with the representatives of Turkmenistan government officials in Ashgabat:
Mr. Isgender Mulikov, Minister of Interior
This was the Special Envoy’s second meeting with the Minister, previous meeting was held in 2013 (prior to Special Envoy mandate). The Special Envoy thanked the Turkmen government for hosting an important conference and conveyed hopes that it would inspire efforts to improve sustainable transport and road safety in the country. With a population of 5.2 Million and 900 estimated road traffic fatalities reported by WHO, the Special Envoy highlighted that Turkmenistan has a manageable road safety issue and could serve as an example for the region. With the adequate political will and simple measures such as enforcing seat belt and use of helmet as well as improving post-crash care and safety of vehicles significant improvements could be quickly made. Special Envoy emphasized the importance of improving road user behavior, sharing his observation that although there are modern cars in the country, many drivers do not use their seatbelts. The Minister agreed that improvements need to be made in implementation of UN Road Safety Conventions and offered to share the Special Envoy’s recommendations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which oversees the road safety efforts. The Minister presented to Special Envoy surveillance center where crashes are monitored and response is coordinated. The Minister also shared that Turkmenistan will be hosting the 5th Asian Olympic Games in 2017 and is developing infrastructure to support the Games.
Mr. Toyly Komekov, Chairman of the State Committee of Turkmenistan for Sport
Minister was appointed by the President only two months prior to this meeting and will have core responsibility for overseeing the 2017 Asian Olympic Games. The Special Envoy highlighted the link between road safety and sports –transport of athletes, citizens and students to sporting activities which requires that roads are safe. The Minister agreed to contact the Ministry of Interior and Foreign Affairs about collaboration on road safety efforts.
Mr. Maksat Aydogdyev, Minister of Motor Transport
The Minister welcomed the Special Envoy who debriefed the Minister on his conversations with the Ministries of Interior and Minister of Sport. The Special Envoy painted the picture of the road traffic fatality crisis in Turkmenistan and around the world with national and global figures. The Special Envoy highlighted that the solutions are clear: education, law enforcement, better road infrastructure, post-crash care and safer vehicles. Use of helmets, seatbelts and drink-driving were key issues that the Special Envoy emphasized are especially relevant to the Ministry of Motor Transport. The Special Envoy also encouraged more accession to the UN Road Safety Conventions, as the country has acceded to only two out of key six Conventions. The Minister expressed interest in improving drivers licensing, testing, testing centers and vehicle technical inspections and in hosting a group of experts who could provide technical assistance on these elements. Before he was appointed as Minister of Motor Transport, he had previously worked at the Ministry of Interior as the head of road safety police and in 2012 oversaw several initiatives on road safety. The Minister shared that Mr. Ban Ki-Moon also spoke with the President about road safety. The Special Envoy encouraged the Minister to attend the Inland Transport Committee meeting taking place in Geneva, 21-24 February 2017. UNECE has followed up with an invitation to the Minister to attend the session of the Inland Transport Committee.