The Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, has made a strong case for the dualisation of major highways linking the country’s major cities to avoid the increasing carnage on the roads.
“If cars are passing one another at 130 kilometres per hour (kph), it is a recipe for disaster. We are the only country in which if there is an accident, 20 to 30 people die,” he told the Daily Graphic almost a week after escaping a near-fatal accident near Osino on the main Kumasi-Accra road.
The Okyenhene was travelling back to Kyebi from a meeting he had last Saturday with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi when the accident happened.
Making his first official pronouncement on the accident last Wednesday, he said it could have been prevented if the road in question was a dual carriageway, adding that dual carriageways prevented the kind of head-on collisions that killed hundreds of people on Ghana’s roads annually.
On the average, six people die on Ghana’s roads every day, according to National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) figures.
“On this super highway between Accra and Kumasi, you always have 30 people dead when there is an accident. Elsewhere you can only hear of that number of deaths with airplanes. It is unacceptable,” he added.
Narrating the cause of the accident, he said the driver of a tipper truck veered off his lane, lost control of the vehicle and nearly hit the vehicle in which he (Okyenhene) was travelling, but when the other vehicles in the convoy applied their brakes, a truck hit the last vehicle, forcing it to veer off the road.
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“It was serious, but we thank God for we were saved. We could have died. My driver was very swift in responding,” he added.
He dismissed claims that the accident occurred because he had been advised not to travel to Kumasi but he did, saying “it had nothing to do with me going to Kumasi. It is God who saved us. But we need to pay more attention to our roads”.
This is not the first time the country’s roads have come under the microscope following a road accident. Ever since the 20-year-old dancehall musician, Ebony Reigns, died at Mankranso in the Ashanti Region on February 9, this year while returning from Sunyani, the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) has mounted a road safety campaign and urged the government to construct dual carriageways to link the major towns and cities.
Osagyefuo Ofori Panin also took issue with the number of speed humps on the roads, saying they posed a danger to motorists.
“I was in Sege recently and it was really bad. Had the driver not been fast, it would have been a different story,” he added.
Although the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) had, in April 2014, ordered the removal of illegal speed humps on the highways, the situation persists.
The directive was for all the humps to be replaced with appropriately designed ones and to provide corridors that need the facility to reduce the high rate at which members of communities are erecting the illegal speed humps.
Illegal speed humps constructed by communities, apparently to check speeding, have rather become death traps on the highways and streets.
The ‘killer humps’, constructed without authorisation and specification from the road authority, have also become a nuisance to the travelling public.
Worse still, motorists are not informed about the existence of such speed humps, as there are no warning signs, and, therefore, they take motorists by surprise.
Communities along major highways erect the speed humps to compel motorists to reduce their speed, the communities having suffered a number of knockdowns from speeding motorists.
Records of accidents caused by speed humps are not immediately available, but it is believed that a number of road accidents could be attributed to illegal speed humps.
According to experts, there would be fewer speed-timing devices on the highways if drivers were more disciplined, as highways were designed for moving vehicles and so anything that reduced the speed of a vehicle negatively affected the load.
Ghana’s road traffic regulations require that if drivers obey the maximum speed limit of 50kph when in communities, then the GHA?would not need to provide speed humps in those communities.
Illegal speed humps are said to not only destroy the roads but also undermine the safety of motorists.
Pros & cons
Experts say speed humps double emissions by causing vehicles to repeatedly slow down and speed up. Research by scientists at the Imperial College, London in the United Kingdom showed that a diesel car emits 98 per cent more nitrogen dioxide when driving over speed humps, compared to narrower and shallower “road cushions”.
Opinions are divided over the usefulness of speed humps. While emergency services believe they slow down response time for Fire Service, police and ambulance, road safety advocates hold the view that they save lives by slowing motorists down in residential areas and around schools where knock downs are likely to be recorded.