Rhythms of Thoughts: Drivers licensed to kill!

Fri, 20 Sep 2013 Source: Richard Annerquaye Abbey

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The act of driving is one which is difficult to master on Accra’s roads. The typical driver here has no regard for the road regulations that is if they know them at all. The worst culprits among these drivers are usually the commercial or “Trotro” drivers who drive with their set of customised regulations.

Certainly shouldn’t it arouse our curiosity that all of these commercial drivers act almost in a like manner? It has always been a source of worry to me because most of these drivers act in a way that put the lives of their passengers in danger as well as other road users.

The fundamental problem we all know is that most of these drivers were not properly trained hence they experiment with people lives to master their trade. This raises a lot of doubts about the professional competence of the licensing body, Driver Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA).

It is sad that almost everything here is Ghana can be bought. From passports, birth certificates, Voters-IDs, the list is just endless. Some of these issuing institutions have become gold mines where people rake a lot of monies for tilting the laws to their favour.

Even without any driving experience, one can literally walk into the offices of the DVLA, and buy a driving license. All you require is to know the people who matter and you will be sorted. It is really a huge problem.

The DVLA over the years has gone through reforms to ensure that only people who have the requisite training are licensed to drive. But in all of these reforms, many people trusted to implement the reforms have stabbed it in the back by navigating around them to suit their selfish needs.

The reason why many drivers’ mate continue to graduate to drivers without proper training is that they can still be assured of their license however through dubious means. What most of these corrupt officials at the DVLA don’t think about is the other road users.

By licensing an unqualified driver, these officials actually put the lives of other road users in danger. Reckless driving is the order of the day. During rush hours, most of these drivers throw caution to the wind and drive according to their own rules.

Some of these drivers don’t mind stopping in the middle of the road to pick passengers. It appears to them the road marks and signs are just decorations not to be observed. That’s not to say the private drivers are above reproach. Some of them also make the worst culprits.

When you live in a country when the amber traffic light means “time to accelerate”, then you should know all is not well. This is just one of the traffic regulations that we have corrupted. And here, all drivers, whether private or commercial are guilty at a point in time.

On daily basis, there are countless infractions on our road and traffic regulations. The people we expect to enforce these laws are rather benefiting from them to society’s detriment. I have always admired ACP Awuni Angwubutoge, Commander of the Motor Transport and Traffic Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police.

Sadly, I can’t say same for most of his boys. It’s an open secret that one can buy his/her freedom no matter the offence committed. All it requires is some “few” cedis if you’re lucky. What these law enforcers do not realise is that anytime an offender is left off the hook, it puts all of us in danger.

I was saddened when I heard that the Chief Justice of the Russian Federation, Vyachesla Mikhailovic Lebedev, was involved in a motor accident early this week. After listening to accounts of how the incident happened, I became more convinced that driver of the tipper truck that run into the Chief Justice’s convoy was certainly going bunkers or something.

This reminds me of a similar incident involving then President Kufuor whose convoy was hit by an unknown vehicle. Luckily the President escaped without any major injuries. The issue about road traffic crashes mostly has nothing to do with the roads rather the people behind the steering wheels.

Sometimes people who drive such heavy duty vehicles tend to use the sheer size of the vehicle to bully other road users. About four years ago, a vehicle I was aboard, wrongly overtook an articulated truck. As if that was not enough, the articulated truck driver openly stated, when he caught up with our driver, that but for the passengers, he would have crushed our driver to death. Such mentality!

There are countless of such drivers in town who don’t take it lightly when you infringe on their right of way. I am very sure that’s what happened last Monday. The DVLA must step up its game and ensure that all drivers who apply for drivers’ license pass through a strict training regimen. We shouldn’t compromise on quality lest we pay heavily.

About six years ago when Accra’s first specialised Motor Court was established to prosecute motor traffic offenders as well as enhance traffic discipline on the roads, a section of the public managed to gag it to death.

It was such a noble effort at sanitizing our roads but I guess its timing was wrong coinciding with an election year. As pressure mounted on the government that move didn’t materialize and the plan fizzled into thin air.

It’s never too late for us to have a rethink of the Motor Court; we need it running full capacity and not some half capacity!

I’m out!

Richard Annerquaye ABBEY

Email: abbeykwei@gmail.com


The writer is the author of Rhythms of Thoughts, a column published in the Weekend edition of the Business and Financial Times (B&FT).

Columnist: Richard Annerquaye Abbey