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Ghana Suffers the Carnage of Road Accidents
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Ghana Suffers the Carnage of Road Accidents

Fri, 23 Sep 2011 Source: Makama, Kamara

; 1,431 die in Nine Months

It is alarming and inconcievable to conjure the number of human capital that Ghana is loses due to fatal traffick accidents. From Januray to August 2011, 1,431 people have died as a result of road accidents. This is an increase from 1,181 deaths registered for the same period in 2010. This is phenomenally painful and shocking.

It is estimated that an average of four people die dialy in Ghana from road traffic accidents. The major causes of road accident accounting for these deaths are over speeding and carelessly reckless driving including overloading, irresponsible driving, wrong over-takings, drink driving and extreme fatique. It is only when Ghanaians- both passengers and drivers change their attitudes toward road usage that we may find a panacea to this menace. A country that fails to take pragmatic steps to curbing situations such as this may only be described as a country that has lost it sense of urgency and needs.

When you have a country where 85 percent of public transport drivers never attended a driving school , the result could not have being different from what transpires on our roads today. Those untrained drivers transfer their bad practises to their apprentices without any sense of responsibility. Consequently, a sustained cycle of reckless and indesciplined drivers are maintained, continually causing death and depleting the human capital of the nation. The country is making strenous efforts towards providing basic needs such as protable drinking water, health facilities, electricity, schools etc to its citizenry, yet 1.6 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is lost through road accidents.

Most of the carnage witnessed on the roads in Ghanaian are avoidable. Especially those that are caused by human negligence and irresponsibility as it is the case in almost all the accidents in Ghana. A car that is suppose to carry only fourteen people exceeds that limit, sometimes doubling the number of occupants. Vehicles are loaded to such limit that the drivers are unable to see from their driving mirrors, this obviously has an implication during overtaking and negotiating curves.

I remember the famous Ghanaian saying used by public transport drivers/owner thus ‘’kontem bra ntem’’ literally translated, it means go fast and be back fast. Due to the quest to cash in as much as possible, drivers and vehicle owners see themselves in a race against time. The faster you drive the more passenger you get and the much money you make. This way of thinking is translated into the behavior of the drivers. Many will resort to all kind of things to keep themselves awake and active- you know what I mean. They will go for liguors ‘’tot’’ , occasionally mixing so many things together. The mystery is this! The passengers are clearly aware of all these attitudes, yet some of them encourage and delights the drivers to drive faster because they want to get to their destinations earlier. Others will also forcefully enter the buss or whatever transport it maybe, conscious of the fact that the car is being overloaded. As I said before, the issue of road accident will never change unless there is a concerted effort towards attitudinal change.

The police as partners of crime

As if taking a bribe supersedes the protection of human lives and property. The police, especially those working with the Mottor Traffic and Transport Unit of the Ghana Police Service must get their acts together. It is unpardonable for any police officer to take a bribe from a driver whose license is either expired or has not got one. At all times, the security and protection of the general public must always be the guiding and underlining principle of the police. This is in most cases on our roads the opposite. For the sake of raking in the dough, these police officers conspicously ignore what is unacceptable and lawless. They sell their professionalism for the death of ordinary Ghanaians.

Institutional enforcement

The National Road Safety Commission, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Athority (DVLA), Mottor Transport and Traffic Unit (MTTU), The Ghana Highway Authority (GHA), The Department of Urban Roads, The Department of Feeder Roads etc. Beautiful names, wonderful mission statements and better strategies on paper. But these insitution have not lived up to the expectation of Ghanaians. Yes, let us agree that there maybe some logistical and institutional bottlenecks. That alone is not a yardstick to be left out of the blame. There is a greater chance of succcess when these institutions collaborate effectively and efficiently on their core areas of operations guided by clear strategies and campaigns. Enforcement of existing laws and regulations must be applied without fear or favour. The insitutition tasked to ensure that our roads are safe must not renege on their efforts to crack the whip and salvage the carnage on our roads.

Failure of governments to give presidential accent to the road traffic regulation passed in 2004 is an indictment on the commitment and will of previous and present governments to finding a lasting solution to acts of irresponsibility and lawlessness on the road. Given a presidential accent, the law will instill descipline on the road.The law as it stands now makes provisions for the installations of speed limiters on engines to reduce irresponsible driving. Why this law has not recieved a presidential accent? your guess is as good as mine.

Kamara Makama: blog http://ifocusonafrica.blogspot.com

Kamara2002gh@yahoo.com

Columnist: Makama, Kamara