The 2007 International Road Transport Action Week Campaign last Tuesday began in Accra with a call on road users, especially drivers, to strictly comply with traffic and motor regulations to reduce indiscipline and carnage on roads.
Mr Magnus Opare Asamoah, Deputy Minister for Transportation said increase in road construction and rehabilitation demonstrated government's commitment to make the transport sector safe, reliable and efficient for Ghana to serve as a corridor for the sub-region.
He stated that Government was also not happy with the increasing carnage on the roads, and had therefore adopted a National Road Safety Strategy to reduce the accident rates from 22 per cent to a single digit by 2010.
He noted that the strategy would involve education as a key tool to improve driver and vehicle integrity and minimise over speeding, overloading, reckless driving and other negative attitudes that made roads unsafe. He said to attain the single digit, the Motor and Traffic Unit has been provided with some equipment to enable it play its enforcement role well.
Mr Opare Asamoah also expressed disappointment on undue delays; extortion and other negative attitudes of security officers on the country's borders saying these attitudes were contrary to ECOWAS protocols.
He stated that the ECOWAS protocols enjoined all member countries to ensure free movement of people and goods, adding that it was in respect of these protocols that the Abidjan-Lagos Facilitation Programme was launched in Accra in September to address such problems that militated against smooth transportation along the corridors.
Touching on HIV/AIDS, the Deputy Minister said due to the nature of the work of drivers, there was the need to intensify HIV/AIDS education for them since many drivers who plied along the borders, especially along Ghana Abidjan were exposed to risks of the pandemic.
Mr David Adonteng, Deputy Director, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) said human error remained the highest contributory factor of most accidents.
He said to this effect, the NRSC through its National Road Safety Strategy would soon establish a national driving school to formally provide training to drivers to increase their professionalism.
He said the Commission would also establish a national call centre where individuals could call on a toll free service to give out information and seek assistance in case of any emergency.
Mr Adonteng also hinted that the Commission would install automatic speed cameras to monitor vehicles and pass a legislative instrument to ensure that drivers who used mobile phones whiles driving and those who refused to put on their seat belts would be brought to book. He said the Commission would continue to work hard to minimise all indiscipline.
Mr Emmanuel A. Mensah, Coordinating Secretary, International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) said the campaign under the theme: 'Organising Globally' Building Union Power, Correcting Indiscipline On Our Roads, Eradicating the Carnage On Our Roads, Addressing Undue Delays at the Frontiers And Fighting the HIV/AIDS Pandemic' has brought together stakeholders to discuss ways to ensure effective transport system.
He said bringing commercial drivers; especially floating drivers under a union had become an essential component for the regulation of the road transport industry and ensuring compliance with traffic and motor regulations. He expressed regret that some drivers deliberately ignored the training received hence causing huge investment loss to transport companies, owners and individuals.
Mr Mensah urged transport owners to improve conditions of service of transport workers to ensure job satisfaction and prevent them from overworking to sustain their livelihood. He also called on Parliament to expedite action on the passage of the Transport Policy Bill that would serve as a guide for stakeholders.
The Coordinating Secretary also stressed the need to address undue delays and extortion by some security officers, adding that it was not encouraging to spend over four dollars for bribes on the borders as investigations has shown.
Mr Paa Cofie Fynn, Greater Accra Regional Manager, Intercity STC Coaches Limited said it was unfortunate that all attempts to reduce indiscipline on roads have failed and the country continued to be one out of 10 countries that record high accident rates. He urged transport owners to employ at least two drivers on board of vehicles, which travelled long distances to reduce driver fatigue identified as a major cause of accidents.
Mr Adjei Sefa, Managing Director, Intercity STC said good transport system was a prerequisite for economic growth and poverty reduction, thus there was the need for a change in any country's transport system to meet global demands.
He said time, distance, reliability and security were therefore important components of a transport system, adding that this was why Intercity STC management and staff through unity was providing quality transport service to link Ghana and national capitals in the sub-region.