Most of our roads are in an abominable state. This is the result of decades of neglect by successive governments. Added to this neglect is indiscipline on the part of some drivers and the profound lack of enforcement of traffic laws by those in charge.
All these factors lead to the horrific accidents and carnage we see on our roads - a sad fact that OccupyGhana, like all Ghanaians, lament.
It is with this background that OccupyGhana® joins the nation in commiserating with the bereaved families of the 60+ victims in the most recent crash on the Tamale - Kimtampo highway on March 22, 2019. May all the lost souls rest in peace.
This is three years after 70 passengers died in a Metro Mass Transit bus crash on this same highway near Kintampo. Until date, no report has been sighted on the matter, and no action taken against the bus company for recklessness.
The statistics on road fatalities in Ghana paint a rather grim picture. Over 46,000 people have been reportedly killed in road traffic accidents since 1991. According to the National Road Safety Commission, six people die daily on Ghana’s roads. The WHO estimated that about 7000 people died through traffic accidents in 2016. Reportedly, Ghana loses about $230 million annually due to traffic accidents.
The majority of victims are occupants of motor vehicles even though pedestrians, especially children, are not spared either. Recently, with the increasing commercialization of motorcycles as a means of transport - okadas - the number of deaths from motor-cycles are also on the increase. The first 2 months of 2019 has already seen 411 fatalities from motorcycles.
Certain roads and highways seem to be especially prone to accidents - the Accra-Kumasi highway, Accra-Aflao-Togo border road, the Accra- Cape Coast -Takoradi road and the Kumasi –Techiman-Kintampo-Tamale highway. In the Greater-Accra Region, the Accra-Tema motorway and the George-Bush Highway are hotspots of injuries and deaths.
What makes the situation even *more dire* are the absence of an effective emergency response system to deal with these accidents, the lack of ambulances and helicopters to transport and well-equipped trauma centers to care for the injured.
The approach to fixing this national ill should be multi-modal and be led by the government and its respective agencies. Thus we acknowledge the fact that the President showed leadership on this issue when he established an inter-ministerial committee last year to look into the increasing cases of road fatalities in the country. The three-man committee identified indiscipline on our roads as the major contributory factor to the increasing incidents of traffic crashes. This is evident in disrespect for speed limits, overtaking, driving under influence of alcohol and drugs, long driving periods, disregard for traffic regulations by motor riders including non-use of crash helmets among others.
With all these recommendations, OccupyGhana® is disappointed in the slow reaction of the Ministry of Transportation, the National Road Safety Commission and the Ghana Police Service in the implementation of laws from the Road Traffic Regulation (LI 2180). As mentioned earlier, disregard of traffic laws, especially of speed limits, is one of the major causes of deaths on our roads. We ask the respective agencies to step up their efforts to instill discipline on our roads. We also ask the government to publish the entire report of the task force.
Guided by the four technical E’s in road safety namely Engineering, Enforcement, Education and Emergencies, OccupyGhana wishes to make the following recommendations to improve safety and curb the increasing carnage on our roads.:
1. Enforce all the laws in the Road Traffic Regulation (LI 2180).
2. Commercial vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles must be fitted with speed limiters and tachographs with speed not exceeding 80km per hour.
3. Audits on privately owned transport businesses must be conducted to regulate their operations.
4. Commercial drivers must undergo yearly medical examinations before being permitted to drive any passenger bus. Certificates of fitness to drive a commercial vehicle must be issued by certified medical doctors from registered health facilities.
5. The Law restricting the use of motorbikes and tricycles for commercial purposes must be enforced, and tricycles should be banned from plying motorways and highways.
6. All trucks, buses and commercial vehicles must physically be tested at DVLA approved test stations.
7. The MTTD of the Ghana Police Service must arrest law enforcement personnel such us the GAF personnel, Fire, Immigration, Customs as well as other vehicles who flout the regulations by driving in the middle and the shoulders of the road without appropriate, legal sirens.
8. The revision of the laws on the use of DV and DP plates as most drivers of such unregistered vehicles are very recalcitrant traffic regulation offenders.
9. Tricycles and mopeds must not be allowed on high-speed arteries like the Accra-Tema motorway.
10. The establishment of an emergency response system and trauma centers.
11. Improvement of our roads, road lights, and signs.
12. Intensify public awareness campaigns about road safety.
It has been said that the way people drive in any country correlates with the level of discipline or lack thereof in said country. The indiscipline on our roads may be a true indication of the indiscipline that plagues us. It is however not a topic for just discussion anymore. It is an issue costing lives and money and we as a nation need to stop and fix it.
Yours, for God and Country
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