The road accident in Takoradi last week in
which an articulator truck killed two school children and a woman, reminded us all of how dangerous our roads are.
Coming soon after two accidents involving two Youtong buses and the one that cost some chiefs their lives, the spate of road accidents in this country has reached a dangerous level and we all must be worried, about it.
Fatal accidents in this country are so many and frequent that the time has come for very radical steps to be taken to check them.
My layman’s view is that any vehicle that transports people en messshould be made to fit its seats in such a way that it will not require passengers stepping out for other passengers to get off such a vehicle.
What do I mean by this?
Just take a look at all the trotro vehicles that pass for mass transport vehicles and you will understand what I mean.
Any wonder, then, that when these vehicles get involved in road accidents the casualty rates are high?
Not long ago I wrote an opinion piece on road safety in this same column and provided some scary accident figures in the country.
The following paragraphs giving those figures have been lifted directly from that opinion piece:
“Provisional figures for the first to the third quarter of this year; that is, from 1st January to 30th September, that I obtained from the National Road Safety Commission show that nationwide, a total of 10,008 accident cases were reported, involving 14,132 vehicles.
“Also nationwide, a total number of 8,024 people were injured whilst a total number of 1,333 people lost their lives.
“Of the accident cases reported, the Greater Accra Region had the highest figure of 4,940, involving 7,677 vehicles followed by the Ashanti Region with 1,257, involving 1,727 vehicles and the Eastern Region with 1,002, involving 1,289 vehicles in that order.
“Central Region, Western Region, Volta Region and Brong Ahafo Region follow with reported accident cases of 907 involving 1,145 vehicles, 638 involving 685 vehicles, 536 involving 733 vehicles and 474 involving 536 vehicles respectively.
“Figures for the remaining regions show that the Northern Region reported 130 road accidents involving 171 vehicles, Upper East Region reported 73 road accidents involving 98 vehicles and Upper West Region had the lowest figure of 51 road accidents, involving 71 vehicles respectively.
“Regarding casualties, the Greater Accra Region reported the highest of 296 persons killed, with 2,534 persons injured.
“Ashanti Region reported 218 persons killed with 1,519 persons injured whilst the Eastern Region reported 155 persons killed with 1,280 persons injured.
“In the cases of Central Region, Western Region, Volta Region and Brong Ahafo Region, the figures reported are 116 persons killed and 709 persons injured, 136 persons killed and 839 persons injured, 136 persons killed and 594 persons injured, and 156 persons killed and 154 persons injured respectively.
“The figures for the remaining regions are as follows: Northern Region reported 57 killed with 263 injured, Upper East Region reported 29 killed and 67 injured whilst the Upper West Region reported 34 killed with 65 injured.”
With provisional figures like those quoted above staring us in the face the time has now come to arrest the problem once and for all.
For instance all vehicles, especially the commercial ones, with defective brakes, lights and worn out tyres should not be allowed to ply our roads.
Also, all drivers who go to the DVLA for the renewal of their licences must be made to retake both the theory and practical driving tests.
The fact of the matter is that manufacturers of vehicles only produce for people with a certain level of literacy to enable them to understand how the vehicles function .
So if people drive as if there were “no tomorrow”, or people drive without any idea as to what road signs mean, then these people have been licensed to kill.
Again, once and for all, let us ban commercial activities and preaching on vehicles since these things turn to distract the attention of drivers.
In addition to all these, there must be the political will to ban the importation and sale of used vehicle parts since what ever savings that will be made from buying and using them will eventually be used on hospital bills.
I must say that all that I have listed above and many more are common knowledge, especially to the police, but as to why the problems still persist, that is anybody’s guess.
In all these, the truth is that people are dying and many others are being maimed because as a country we have not been able to deal appropriately with the problem of road accidents.
At the first national road safety awards the then Minister of Transport, Mr. Mike Hammah, hinted that plans were underway to create an institution that would regulate activities of last year, transport companies and organisations in Ghana, citing the examples of the air transport industry which is being regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority and the marine transport industry which is being regulated by the Maritime Authority.
Clearly this idea is a sensible thing to do as can be seen in the myriad of one man transport companies which are all over the place and which are the main causes of many of the accidents on our roads.
The bringing into being of a regulator for the transport sector is even more urgent if viewed against the background that the road sector constitutes 90 percent of transportation in Ghana.
In a country where one obvious missing thing is that road safety is a shared and a collective responsibility, the setting up of such a body is very necessary.
What this means is that it is important, among other things, for drivers to extend driving courtesies to each other so that the madness that pushes some drivers to drive on the shoulders of the road will be a thing of the past.
As I write this piece, I am informed that the police at Tema are arresting recalcitrant drivers and that they have promised the people of this country that the exercise will be sustained.
That obviously is good news.
I hope that the police in other parts of the country will start doing what the Tema police are doing for too many people are unnecessarily dying on our roads.