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Moved by personal tragedy, a drive to make Oman roads safer

Muscat: “There is almost no Omani citizen who has not lost a family member or a friend in a road accident.”

Ali Al Barwani, the new Oman Road Safety Association (ORSA) chief executive officer, is speaking from personal experience.

The new CEO lost his nephew in a traffic accident.

“I feel bad when I see his orphaned daughter now,” he said, and added that every road death leaves behind a tragedy.

Al Barwani also buried two of his neighbours who lost their lives on Oman’s roads in the same way.

Despite that, he is optimistic that Oman can overcome its horrific road record – using education as his weapon of choice.

“We are keen on adding road safety lessons to schools’ curricula so children will learn about their rights and responsibilities on the road,” he explained.

He said that it was sad to see buses and cars parking dangerously on the stretch of Bausher road that is packed with educational institutions.

ORSA is working closely with public, private and international schools to educate students about road safety, according to Al Barwani.

“When you tell someone that a person has died, the automatic reply is ‘Was he involved in an accident?’. Until this response changes in Oman, I believe this issue will remain a matter of concern,” Al Barwani said.

However, Al Barwani has all the right to be optimistic as the Sultanate reported considerably fewer road accidents in the first half of 2016, with cases plunging 37 per cent to 2,100, as against 3,334 traffic accidents during the same period last year.

While serious education is a long-term plan, Al Barwani revealed some of ORSA’s short-term ones.

“We will invite victims who survived dangerous traffic accidents to talk to younger drivers via social media,” he said, and added that ORSA will also have continuous safety campaigns.

“I am happy to be appointed to this position and I believe there is so much space for improvement,” Al Barwani said.

The new CEO has experience with the oil and gas industry where his career started as an engineer in Oman LNG’s $2 billion project in Sur.

Oman’s latest generation is what people are pinning their hopes on to end traffic accidents, one of the country’s biggest concerns, according to Ali Al Barwani, the new chief executive officer of Oman Road Safety Association (ORSA).