The government adopted the Programme in September 2015. It was supposed to reduce the number of unsafe sections on Polish roads which pose a high risk of accidents. The cost of planned counter-measures was estimated at about PLN 7.2 billion in nearly 9 years (until the end of 2023). However, the entity implementing the Programme - the General Director for National Roads and Motorways - spent only 7.5% of that amount (about PLN 540 million) on investments. The NIK audit revealed that the reasons included among others: improperly prepared Programme, imprecise planning of expenditures as well as delays at the stage of preparation and then execution of some investments.

Value of investments in individual road risk classes: PLN 174.02 million (152 tasks) the highest concentration of accident costs; PLN 115.88 million (90 tasks) very high concentration of accident costs; PLN 45.75 million (43 tasks) very low concentration of accident costs; PLN 80.08 million (36 tasks) low concentration of accident costs; PLN 62.33 million (37 tasks) average concentration of accident costs; PLN 62.24 million (62 tasks) high concentration of accident costs. Total: PLN 540.3 million (420 tasks). Source: NIK’s analysis based on the data from auditees

NIK has also established that 1085 tasks were planned at the start of the Programme and only 273 were completed at the halfway stage (with the cost of PLN 380 million). Nearly half of that amount (a bit more than PLN 188 million) was earmarked for investments which were not qualified for the Programme as they were not related to particularly dangerous places to drive. As a consequence, although they improved the quality of road infrastructure and improved safety of its users, the road sections with a high or very high risk of an accident remained unmodernised.

The number of accidents irrelevant to the number of investments as part of the Programme

The Programme for Eliminating Unsafe Places is part of the National Road Construction Programme which aims among others at limiting the number of casualties by at least 40% by 2023. Though, this number not only did not go down in 2019 against 2015 but also it increased by 5% and the number of road accidents dropped only by 1%. These data show that we are still in the lead of European countries with the biggest number of casualties in road accidents.

Poland against Europe - accident rates. Europe: the number of casualties in road accidents per 1 million inhabitants in 2018: Romania - 96. POLAND - 74. EU - 49. Norway - 20. Poland: the number of road accidents in 2019 against 2015 decreased by 1% (from 29032 to 28751). The number of casualties in road accidents in 2019 against 2015 increased by 5% (from 2772 to 2905. Source: NIK’s analysis based on the data from non-audited entities

The above indicates that the to-date implementation of the Programme for Eliminating Unsafe Places has not brought about the expected effects. The number of particularly dangerous road sections has not fallen significantly. The data gathered by NIK reveal the lack of dependence between the improvement of safety on selected roads and the investments made. For instance, in Silesian Province, only 6 tasks were completed as part of the Programme but still the number of accidents went down by as many as 906 from 2015 to 2019. At the same time, in Zachodniopomorskie Province, despite 37 investments the drop in accidents was only 74. In Małopolskie Province as many as 36 investments were carried out but the number of accidents went up by 754 and in Wielkopolskie Province by even more (1598), although 20 investments were completed there.

It is similar with the data concerning persons who lost their lives in car accidents. In 2019, in Lubuskie and Małopolskie Provinces there was one casualty less than in 2015, however in Lubuskie Province only 6 investments were accomplished in the audited period and in Małopolskie it was 36 investments. The biggest drop in the number of casualties was reported in Silesian Province (by 57), although there were only 6 tasks completed as part of the Programme. Interestingly enough, the number of casualties in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Province increased by 57 despite numerous investments (twice as many as in Silesian Province).

NIK has also made an in-depth analysis of the classification results of 20 road sections, where investments financed from the Programme were accomplished in 2015. The analysis indicated that the investments had no impact on the risk class changes. In case of 8 road sections the risk class went up, in case of 6 sections it dropped and in 6 cases it remained unchanged. 

Unreliable project

NIK stands in a  position that one of the reasons why the Programme for Eliminating Unsafe Places was ineffective, was improper preparation of its project in 2015. The Minister of Infrastructure and Development did not plan, despite the criticism of the Minister of Finance, any control mechanisms, e.g. indicators that would help verify the Programme effects and individual tasks and actively manage their implementation on an on-going basis. Besides, the Minister did not commission any studies of the road traffic safety or the impact of road infrastructure on that safety.

The Minister acted based on information and proposals submitted by the General Director of National Roads and Motorways (GDRNM). The NIK audit revealed, though, that the list of tasks developed by GDRNM as part of the Programme included tasks that did not qualify for the Programme. They should deal with the road sections with the highest risk classes, whereas the General Director increased those classes without informing the Minister of Infrastructure and Development about that. Road sections with low risk classes (from A to C) were assigned high risk classes (D).

As a result, the Programme for Eliminating Unsafe Places financed also road investments located in the places that were not classified as unsafe. From among 420 tasks which were completed by September last year or which were in progress at that time, 43 were related to road sections where the accident risk was very low or low (36 cases). 

In July 2017, the government modified the National Road Safety Programme. For instance, it removed the list of tasks to be financed as part of the Programme for Eliminating Unsafe Places and also an entry about the planned limit of expenditures for that purpose. The way of selecting tasks related to road safety improvement was also changed. From then on the tasks were to be selected by the minister responsible for transport in line with the updated list of needs, the intervention urgency and taking account of financial capacity. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Construction at that time explained that the decision was to ensure more flexible and faster execution of future tasks. The changes were implemented without taking into account the recommendations of the General Directorate of National Roads and Motorways. The recommendations were defined based on a report of the World Bank which carried out an audit in the GDNRM of the process of managing safety of the national road infrastructure. The report said, among other things, that the Ministry of Infrastructure and Construction and the General Directorate of National Roads and Motorways should agree as soon as possible on details concerning the monitoring of progress in implementing the Programme for Eliminating Unsafe Places. The objective was to ensure efficient performance of tasks as part of the Programme as well as control of its results.

After the National Road Construction Programme was modified and the list of tasks being part of the Programme for Eliminating Unsafe Places was removed, the minister responsible for transport took a decision each time to start an investment proposed by the General Director by approving its investment programme. The procedures and the deadlines for approving investment programmes varied. It happened that they exceeded 100 days. In one case they took nearly 9 months. According to NIK, the failure to agree upon rules and deadlines for approving investment programmes and the absence of a formal list of the Programme tasks were some of the reasons why the Program was not properly implemented.

No supervision, ineffective planning of expenditures, effects not accounted for

Although the Programme for Eliminating Unsafe Places assumed update of the list of investments, the minister responsible for transport did not change the list in any way. Summing up the investments financed from the Programme from 2016 to 2018:

  • 65 road crossings were reconstructed,
  • 31km of road pavement was repaired or replaced,
  • the following were built:
    • 163 km of pavements for pedestrians,
    • 86 km of routes for pedestrians and cyclists,
    • 20 km of bike routes,
    • 45 of pedestrian refuge islands.

Unfortunately, based on the documentation kept in the General Directorate it was impossible to isolate tasks financed from the Programme funds in 2015 and 2019.

The minister responsible for transport and the General Director did not monitor the way investments they made impacted the road traffic safety. Also, they did not evaluate the effectiveness of the solutions they used. According to the General Director, to ensure credible results similar periods would have to be compared - 3 years before and 3 years after the task implementation. That’s why such evaluation has been scheduled for 2020.

NIK has found that the General Director did not properly supervise controls or audits of road traffic safety (including impact of some investments on that safety), carried out by GDRNM branches in those 3-years’ periods. The General Director’s activities amounted to obtaining reports from selected branches, without checking if all the controls were conducted. Ineffectiveness of the supervision is confirmed by the fact that in 4 branches in 2016, in 8 branches in 2017 and in one branch in 2019 (as of 30 September 2019) not a single general control of road traffic safety was performed, although the General Director ordered to do so.

The low level of the Programme implementation after nearly 5 years of its functioning points also to ineffective planning of expenditures by the General Director of National Roads and Motorways. By 30 September 2019, he spent about PLN 540 million (including about PLN 155 million from the National Road Fund, about PLN 379 million from the state budget and nearly PLN 7 million from the local government funds). This is only 45% of the total limit he could use from the National Road Fund (totalling PLN 1.2 billion). A reserve for tasks planned in the budget by the General Director remained unused at the end of the year, which also is an evidence of ineffective supervision of the Programme implementation by the Minister responsible for transport. There were also delays at the stage of preparation and then implementation of some road investments, e.g. due to prolonging procedures related to granting permits or difficulties with selecting contractors.  

Audit effects

Because of errors and negligence in the course of developing the Programme for Eliminating Unsafe Places the funds for the Programme implementation were used to a little extent. Also the knowledge about the effects of investments was scarce and thus the list of investments was not being updated. Therefore, NIK has recommended that the Minister of Infrastructure should:

  • define transparent criteria of selecting tasks for the Programme as well as indicators of their performance and monitor the Programme effects on a regular basis, 
  • evaluate and analyse the impact of tasks performed as part of the Programme on the road traffic safety.

NIK has also requested the General Director of National Roads and Motorways to intensify measures to eliminate unsafe places on national roads using the annual limits of funds for the Programme implementation.

Following the audit, NIK has also submitted a notification to the Public Finance Auditor. According to NIK, in the Gdańsk branch of the General Directorate of National Roads and Motorways, at the time of incurring financial liability to implement one of the tasks, there was no task coverage in the investment programme. Another notification will concern the Warsaw branch of the GDRNM where investments were carried out by contractors without adhering to the provisions of the Public Procurement Law.

Article informations

Date of creation:
13 October 2020 00:34
Date of publication:
13 October 2020 00:34
Published by:
Marta Połczyńska
Date of last change:
23 October 2020 14:15
Last modified by:
Andrzej Gaładyk
A road crossing in Poland

Programme for Eliminating Unsafe Places failed to eliminate the problem

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