A car crash on the Yerevan–Gyumri highway has left 11 people dead, raising concerns and criticism about Armenia’s road safety.
The head-on collision of a minibus and a lorry on the highway early on Monday morning led to the death of the minibus driver and ten of his passengers. The lorry driver and five other minibus passengers were hospitalised in Yerevan and Gyumri.
Armenia’s Investigative Committee has launched a criminal investigation into the accident, with preliminary reports suggesting that the lorry had driven into the opposite lane.
Traffic collisions are a major issue in Armenia, with accidents often leading to death or severe injuries. Citing a World Bank report, RFE/RL reported that about 11 out of 100,000 people die in traffic collisions every year, and that traffic-related death rates have been on the rise in the last 10 years.
Monday’s fatal collision triggered criticism in Armenia about the government’s commitment to reforming road safety regulations and strategies.
Hayk Marutyan, a former mayor of Yerevan currently in the running for another term at City Hall, blamed the accident on ‘shoddy road construction and a lack of control over vehicle maintenance’.
‘I think it's time to realise that good asphalt does not equal good roads’, wrote Marutyan on Facebook.
Daniel Ioannisyan, head of the Union of Informed Citizens, has also said that the Yerevan–Gyumri highway does not have dividing markers, despite being under construction ‘for over ten years’.
Ioannisyan singled out Interior Minister Vahe Ghazaryan and Territorial Administration Minister Gnel Sanosyan for ‘not understanding how to reduce the mortality rate (of traffic collisions)’.
‘Does Gnel Sanosyan not have anything to say about the sad state of road safety infrastructure? Does Vahe Ghazaryan not have anything to say about the lack of road safety policy?’