The new roller barriers are being installed around the city in places where accidents are frequent. This stretch is along a bridge that crosses the Kebena River.

Jiangxi Changnan Construction Group, a Chinese company, has begun replacing the guard rails along the city's roads and roundabouts with safety rollers at a cost of 115 million Br.

The Addis Abeba Traffic Management Agency hired the company to change the previous metal guard rails with safety rollers, a form of crash barrier, last month. The safety rollers will be installed at major roads, roundabouts, bridges and intersections.

The rollers were installed at locations with a turning radius; at roundabouts; on roads with a steep gradient or a downhill or high embankment; and those with heavy vehicle volumes, particularly on freight transport routes as large trucks often have more safety issues, according to Jiregna Hirpha, director of the Agency.

"The project is aimed at saving drivers, passengers and anyone at the scene of the accident caused by mechanical failure, driver error, lack of attention or skill," he said.

The safety rollers use a rotating structure that is made from flexible and anti-collision materials. The wear-resistant rotating bucket support on the column rotates freely on the posts upon impact. This free rotation minimises the impact force of the car as the shock is effectively absorbed and reduced by this rotating barrel. This is expected to reduce the consequences of traffic accidents.

The rotating bucket is made of a composite material composed of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and polyurethane, which is used to produce rubber-like materials. The high strength EVA and polyurethane material is inherently flexible and wear-resistant. The beams are expected to prevent cars from crossing over the safety roller and driving out of their lanes.

The Agency signed the agreement with the company on June 14, 2019, for 21 different project sites found across the city.

Jiangxi Changnan initially expected to deliver the project in August 2020 but has extended to September in agreement with the Agency citing delays in delivery of its materials due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), according to the Agency's Deputy Director, Semere Jelalu.

"The materials have all been imported from China," said Liu Bing, general manager from Jiangxi Changnan Construction. "When the flights and shipments were suspended, it resulted in delays."

The rollers have been installed along 2.4Km of the more than 20 selected sites that include Ethio-China Friendship Road, Haile Garment roundabout, Millenium Park, Kore and Keraniyo bridges, Keranio roundabout, Vatican Embassy, Medhanialem Church, and Megenagna, Wollo Sefer and Mexico grade-separated intersections.

The safety rollers are able to protect the rotating bucket from being crushed when impacted and effectively protect driver and passengers. The weather-resistant rollers have the added benefit of being resistant to abrasion, ultraviolet light and corrosion. They can be used for 10 years under natural outdoor conditions as they are not easily damaged.

In the event of a car accident, the energy of the collision is converted into rotating energy through the rotating bucket to maintain the normal driving direction and speed of the car.

The safety rollers are especially suitable for accident-prone areas such as tunnel entrances, extremely sharp turns and complex intersections as they are the most vulnerable for traffic accidents, according to the deputy director.

"The rotating barrel is also reliable," Semere said. "Even if it's severely hit, it rebounds immediately."

The rotating barrels have bright colors such as yellow, orange and green with a high degree of light reflection to serve an eye-catching function. This is expected to attract the attention of the drivers and reduce accident rates especially at night and on rainy days.

While the initiative is commendable, the rollers should be extended across the city, not just in dangerous locations, according to Shewye Mersha, lecturer of Urban Development & Road Management at Kotebe Metropolitan University.

"A demonstration must also come before spending such a high amount of money," he said. "The ethics of drivers and the legal procedures for obtaining a driving license should also be given attention when it comes to securing road safety."

PUBLISHED ON Aug 16,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1059]

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