EDITORIAL: Better Late Than Never
5/9/2012 11:00:42 PM -
A pedestrian jumping over the barrier at a portion of the N1 Highway. Once upon a time, Ghana embarked upon a change over from left hand drive to right hand drive.
When the idea was mooted in 1973, many felt that such a major project would lead to confusion and fatalities on our roads especially when reports had it that a similar exercise in a neighbouring country ended with carnage on the roads.
Learning from the experience of others, the then government put in place a comprehensive education programme that helped to sensitise the people ahead of the change over on August 4, 1974.
In spite of the vigorous campaign, some motorists decided to stay away from the roads on the D-Day for fear that they might forget about the change and thus be involved in accidents.Thankfully the changeover witnessed very minor incidents that the country won worldwide acclaim for the smooth transition from left hand drive to right hand drive.
Just around the same time, the country launched another campaign dubbed “Ghana goes metric” but the exercise failed woefully because the public education campaign was not effective.
As a result of the failure of the exercise, measurements and weights are still calculated in the imperial system instead of the metric system. There is no uniformity on the market when it comes to the use of measurements and weights as the people identify with the system which they are comfortable with.
We have succeeded as a people in other public campaigns and failed in others. Those we have failed in were as a result of ineffective public education. In some of the instances, the public education was launched after the programmes have taken off.
The Daily Graphic recalls that when the government sometime ago decided to embark upon widespread construction of asphalt roads in major towns and the building of footbridges, the public were not educated about their obligations in such circumstances.
The footbridges were not patronised in many of the suburbs in Accra for instance because pedestrians regarded them as obstacles instead of convenient ways of avoiding accidents on speed lanes.
Even under footbridges at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle and Kaneshie, the people preferred to jump over concrete barriers in the median of the road at the risk of their lives rather than walk for a few metres to footbridges where their safety would be guaranteed. During that period, few lives were lost, as those who risked jumping over the concrete barriers were knocked down by speeding vehicles.
The same scenario is being played over again on the George Walker Bush Motorway, otherwise known as the N1 Highway, where over a two-week period since the inauguration of the road, 13 lives have been lost simply because the people have refused to use the designated places to cross the road.
The pedestrians have attributed their misfortunes to the long distances to walk to cross the road on the footbridges or at traffic intersections.Some of the pedestrians claim that the authorities did not carry out the required sensitisation of users of the road prior to its inauguration.
The furore that greeted the accidents on the road forces the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to embark on a programme to enforce the adherence of road traffic regulations. Unfortunately, the public’s response to the campaign was lukewarm, as it achieved very little results. The Police Administration also despatched its personnel to bring order on the road but here again the effect was minimal.
It is good news that the Police Administration has not given up but has now launched an educational campaign to rid the George Walker Bush Highway of road crashes to prevent further loss of lives.
The Daily Graphic commends the initiative to position police personnel on the road to manage human and vehicular traffic everyday from morning till night.
The paradox in society is that more road accidents are recorded on good roads as against the roads that are in bad condition. That is why the George Walker Bush Highway, arguably the best road in the country, has rather turned into a death trap largely as a result of indiscipline and the lack of understanding of the regulations by users.
The Daily Graphic thinks the initiators of the project failed to consider the fact that there are intended and unintended consequences of all development projects.
Now we know the shortcomings of the project and all the stakeholders should come up with the solutions to the challenges.
The George Walker Bush Highway must improve our way of life.