Inas Abou Ayyash: Ambassador of Kunhadi

Prestige issue 262, May 2015

She promises to reduce the number of victims on the roads

The problem of road accidents in Lebanon is part of the country’s daily life. The authorities, to deal with the misconduct that takes dozens of lives each year, have finally decided to draft a law hoping to limit the number of victims. The new ambassador of Kunhadi, Inas Abou Ayyash, unveils to Prestige the achievements of the Association since its inception as well as future projects close to her heart to increase youth awareness, the main victims, in a thoughtful and responsible driving.

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Inas Abou Ayyash, ambassador of Kunhadi. © Archives Inas Abou Ayyash

What are the statistics according to Kunhadi Association regarding accidents and road fatalities in 2014? Can we compare these results with those of previous years during the awareness campaigns of the Association? Lebanon loses more than 700 young people per year following road accidents and over 14,000 wounded. This is the first cause of youth deaths, all between 15 and 29 years old. It costs more than 1.4 billion US dollars per year, which corresponds to 3% of Gross National Product, GNP. The Kunhadi Association since its foundation in 2006, was intended solely to reduce collisions and their impacts. For this, our priority was to launch a new approach to driving through free lectures in schools and universities, and create new activities involving the younger generation in order to raise awareness of the danger of misconduct.

What are the main causes of road accidents in Lebanon? The fault lies with the driver at 85%, for the following reasons: 1. Lack of respect of maximum speed. 2- Driving under the influence of alcohol.3- Driving without helmet for motorcyclists.4- Driving under the influence of fatigue.5- Driving without seat belt.6- The use of the mobile while driving. 7- The neglect of pedestrians for the use of walkways and bridges built for them. We replaced the word «accident» with «shock or collision» because in fact it is the driver who is at fault.

To what extent do you think that citizens are willing to comply with the new rules of the road? The top two clauses of the Code are 355 and 359. The first provides for the establishment of a Council for Road Safety, chaired by the Prime Minister with the members ministers of Interior, Justice, Education and Public Works that will trace a road safety policy. The second envisages the creation of a dependent National Commission of the Council and chaired by the minister of Interior. It will be composed of representatives of civil associations involved in the field of road safety. If a political decision is made to apply the new rules of the road, the Prime minister and members would be involved and responsible, so blamed by the people for non enforcement of the law. Moreover compliance with this new law will give Lebanon the chance to participate in the program issued by the United Nations in 2011 and which expires in 2020, committing countries to reduce by 50% road accidents. It goes without saying that this new traffic will decrease at least 40% of accident victims. In fact, we noticed a significant reduction in collisions during the first two months of 2011, following the law regarding speed. Unable to reach 0% accidents, we can however reduce the number of victims like the developed countries.

What is the role of Kunhadi about the new law? The Kunhadi Association participated in the first International Ministerial Conference on security measures, with 100 countries represented by their ministers of Transport and Interior, except Lebanon. Section 359 of the new Code invites civil society organizations to participate in the National Commission for Road Safety to provide their comments and proposals for the implementation and evolution of this law. Furthermore, associations should coordinate their efforts with officials by launching awareness campaigns focusing to accustom citizens to respect each article of the law. To this end, our association is in the process of preparing two campaigns for the current year. In this context, I invite the Prime Minister to activate the role of the National Council for Road Safety under the new law. I hope that the media will not criticize the law, but on the contrary launch encouraging educational programs. I also hope that this legislation will be applied impartially and does not end up like the others, a true source of bakchiches, corruption, and abuse of power by security forces in the preparation of reports. Moreover, it is inconceivable to regulate traffic without the use of IT, focusing on absolute transparency in developing the specifications to proceed with the repair of roads to international standards. Moreover, we should encourage citizens to take responsibility for advising the authorities on the burrs by the security forces as well as the dilapidated roads to press officials to act. A first step for a successful implementation of the Code.

What are the main achievements of Kunhadi in 2014 and what are your future projects? * The association «International Group for Road Safety» is the first security model project in Lebanon between Antelias and Byblos under the theme We meet so that life does not separate us. * Kunhadi participated in the awareness level and culture. * We also gave weekly lectures to students. * Kunhadi established safe passages for pedestrians in front of several schools in this region. * It also provided an information campaign supported by Saatchi C & M. * The Kunhadi Association has installed reflectors on the highway Antelias-Bikfaya. * It recorded 42 television programs of 20 seconds each, a program that informs viewers about the new code to prevent the dangers of risky behavior. * The association has distributed 90 free helmets to delivery motorcyclists of Zaatar w Zeit restaurant. * It offered two evenings for young’s with taxi included a «Night Taxi» which aims to spread the culture of «do not drive under the influence of alcohol». * Kunhadi also launched two advertising campaigns around the use of mobile and speed. * It made a safe passage for students outside the American University of Beirut and at three schools in the hope to see these passages in front of all Lebanese schools. * It urged drivers not to drive drunk on New Year’s Day by providing free services to drive them home. The intervention of Kunhadi with youth during the late evenings of the years 2011, 2012, 2013 had an impact such as a large number of organizations and private companies took the same initiatives to preach the dangers of driving when drunk. The ministry of Interior and Municipalities, like Kunhadi supplied to revelers on New Year’s Day, 2013 and 2014 cars to bring them home. The Kunhadi Association received the award for Best Association of Lebanon under the patronage of the ministry of Social Affairs and the support of the UNDP and the Award for Best Social Work in 2011 and 2014.

You foresee a lot of projects ready for implementation, such a psychotherapy center, a school for taxi drivers to international standards of conduct. When will all these projects see the day? I promised to create the first center of free psychotherapy support to victims of collisions in Lebanon and the Middle East in the hope of having the support of the ministry of Social Affairs, and free driving school to drivers of public transport according to international safety standards. I would also like to create a garden in Beirut for victims of road accidents. I hope to realize these projects in the course of the years 2015 and 2016.

Interview by S.N.