ROAD ACCIDENTS IN GHANA
By Acheampong Samuel O
It has become too much a bad incidence to accept and what beats my mind is the lack of interest by all stakeholders to help curb this problem. Why should we have such a very high rate of road accidents and it’s like nobody, no organisation or authority is interested to bring help to this unacceptable incidence in this country to a very low rate?
My heart always bleeds whenever I hear of some road accidents in this country. Very few of very well meaning Ghanaians have tried in their little way to help curb this social canker by contributing in various ways; by writing articles and making very cogent suggestions but it seems the more individuals suggest best ways to curb road accidents in Ghana, the greater the level of road accidents increase.
Tv3 and Metro TV have all done well and are still doing very well by showing fresh road accidents scenes on their screens but I do not know whether the authorities in charge bother at all when they see these gory pictures. For me they are absolutely doing very little to curb road accidents in Ghana. All authorities in checking and controlling road accidents in Ghana, please, do something you never done before to forestall this canker forever. Why, don’t the big men and women in charge of these organisations ever had their relatives involved in road accidents before? Why are you not taking very strict and cogent measures to bring road accidents in Ghana t o a very low level?
Road accidents mostly happen as result of:
Recklessness and carelessness by drivers; not respecting road safety regulations, jumping the red light, wrong overtaking especially on the highways, and in even the cities of Accra and Kumasi. Bigger truck drivers mostly do not give a dime whenever other road users need to access their fair share of the road they have also contributed in building. Lack of regular maintenance of the buses and local trotro. Most of these trotro buses, excuse me to say, are not even fit to be used to carry food stuffs, let alone human beings but they are being used each day to convey passengers from one end to another with impunity freely. Speeding with unworkable speedometers. Most of the vehicles do have workable speedometers but when they get unto the road, they speed and speed without knowing what kilometres per hour the bus or vehicle is being travelled. What will be the result?
OVERLOADING. It has become normal and acceptable that buses that should take say five passengers on a row now takes six passengers instead. These are live at stations like Kumasi, Bolga, Bawku station at Krofroum in Kumasi, Kumasi Race course and many other stations in the country. These unauthorised activities have been going on for so many years. If they do not overload at the station then they will pick up passengers on the way and put the money into their pockets, yet when the vehicles breaks down, it is the bus owner who does the maintenance. Drivers of Kingdom Transport Services who used to travel to the northern part of Ghana used to pick up passengers at Techiman, Kintampo, and other spots. I remember very well that passengers used to quarrel a lot with these drivers. Some were even reported to their station masters. No wonder, they the drivers have collapsed the Kingdom Transport Services. The same drivers had collapsed Omnibus Transport Services, and the Tata Bus services. You see they seek for only their self interest.
POTHOLES. There are lot potholes on our roads that need maintenance but have been left to become death traps. Shoddy works by many contractors are the causes of these potholes, but still these potholes should be patched up professionally when they are noticed. Bad road construction, for instance there are some useless roundabouts on the Accra –Kumasi road just after Ejisu to Kumasi Metropolis. Big trucks and big buses have difficulty in negotiating these roundabouts. Something needs to be done about these roundabouts that were constructed four, five years or fewer years ago. The Roads in Tema have become bad especially, the main community one road that starts from the Presbyterian Church round to Casino. This portion of the road in Tema needs massive repair works.
There are similar ones in the Accra Metropolis, Ako Adjei (Sankara) to Nkrumah circle, Independence Square straight to Teshie Nungua and back and many others. Accra Tema motorway now is crying for major repairs. All the bridges on the motorway are now death traps. Those who use the motorway daily know well what I am talking about here. One P.G.OFORI ANSONG wrote an in-depth analysis of the accidents on the Accra-Tema motorway which was published in the Daily Graphic, 22nd July 2008. I believe his write-up was a class for all who are concerned in fighting road accidents in this country. P.G.ANSONG, Ghana needs more of these analyses from you and other people who are concerned about the frequent road accidents in this country.
UNPROFESSIONAL MECHANICS: The manner and ways of unprofessional activities by mechanics who repair and maintain vehicles in this country leave much to be desired. Are these mechanics being governed by any formal training that is of any world standards anywhere in any country in the world? Who checks and certifies that they can and are allowed to work on people’s vehicles? You would be interested to know that if you take your car to a number of mechanics for a common problem, they are all likely to tell you a different story. It’s try and error, they practice. Others just need money even if they know very well they can’t handle the problem. We know the end result. Accidents!!!
The fixing of artificial seats in cargo cars that have been turned into passenger buses in Ghana is one major contributing factor. We all know the stories of the popular and notorious 207 in Ghana. It has claimed more lives than expected. Is anybody checking the activities of the mechanics or fitters as we call them in Ghana? Do they have the technical skills to fix and disassemble these buses and other vehicles? Do they have the needed tools for identifying and fixing any problem with these buses and other vehicles?
It is true that these mechanics at Suame Magazine in Kumasi, at Abossey Okai in Accra are doing their best, but their activities must be certified by a higher authority before they are allowed to practice fitting in Ghana. I do not know of any professional who does not have a certification but is able to practice without being punished. Accountants, Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers and all others well recognised professionals have must get certification from higher authorities before they can practice. Why not the mechanic whose work is very important and helps builds the nation greatly and whose fixing and fitting of a vehicle could result in the death of other people who also contribute to the development of our dear nation be checked?
The activities of spare drivers and drivers’ mates should also be checked. They contribute greatly to road accidents in Ghana.
BAD POLICE OFFICERS: Yes, the work of the police is very key to the development of every nation and Ghana is no exception. We have police officers on the roads daily to perform their duties dutifully and many are doing their best, however, there are some police officers who do not care whether, the driver has a valid license, the vehicle is overloaded, the driver is tipsy, the driver obeys other road safety regulations. Only God becomes both our spiritual and physical police in these circumstances.
The consequences of road accidents are anti-developmental, and many other negative problems. Orphans are left with nobody to cater for them; there is an increase in number of dependants on families and the government. Heath workers at accidents units at the various hospitals across, the country are over overstretched and exhausted. The biggest of all is the lost of the country’s energetic human resource through reckless road accidents. Funds that could have been channelled through developmental issues are diverted to cater for avoidable accident victims. Pain and grieve endured for ages by people whose relatives, friends or colleague human beings have been lost through road accidents. We know the effects very well.
The Driver licensing Authority, DVLA: DVLA should have two different colours of licence for commercial and private drivers. Commercial should be able to use the one used by private drivers but private cannot use the commercial driving licence. Offenders should be fined. We should all make it priority to help reduce road accidents in Ghana to very low level and be able to sustain it.
THE WAY FORWARD:
Ghana needs a new organization that should be legalised solely for road safety.
I would suggest a name like ROAD SAFETY AUTHORITY (RSA) .
This new public organisation will be in charge of the following among other things:
* The certification of activities of mechanics in Ghana.
* Checking the importation of spare parts into Ghana.
* Towing of accident vehicles from the various roads nationwide.
* Make sure no vehicle with passengers on board should buy fuel at a filling station. Drivers travelling long journeys who want to top up their tanks should park somewhere for passengers to get down before they get fuel at the nearby filling station, they can then continue their journey.
* The authority should have the legal backing to arrest recalcitrant drivers and arraign them before court. The police should leave this duty to this authority. It should be the sole responsibility of the authority to arrest ONLY drivers who violate road safety regulations.
* Ensure that big trucks and unlicensed vehicles should not move after 6PM
* Check the importation of every vehicle for road safety conditions.
* The placing of officers on the roads and at lorry stations to check overloading, wrong overtaking and high speed. The law should be made in such a way that officers should be changed every month from the particular station or road he or she was the previous month.
* Erect and maintain clear road signs on the various highways and urban roads in the country.
* Acquire ambulances for accident spots identified nationwide
* Support orphans of road accidents and other road accident victims.
* Many others added by colleague Ghanaians.