Road as a type of transport means, is a path on land established for the movement of vehicles, humans and animals. Roads offer a dependable route for the movement of goods and services from one place to the other. For roads to effectively provide the functions described above, it should be in good shape or in other words motorable. All over the world road in the form of highways, motorways, trunk roads, arterial roads, feeder roads among others is the most widely used means of transport. It would therefore not be over the bar to describe road transport as the leading means of transportation.
In Ghana, the importance of road transport even assumes a higher tendency and indeed not quite different from the general world spectacle. This higher importance of road transport in Ghana is overly due to poor harnessing of the other means of transport such as rail, water and air. However bad roads have become the bane of the country, subsequently impeding the effective functions of roads as a means of transportation. Statistics from the International Road Federation indicates that as at the year 2009, a percentage of only 12.59 of the total network of 109,515km had been paved, where paved roads are those roads surfaced with crushed stone, hydrocarbon binder or bituminized agents etc.
A deplorable road in itself is a recipe for vehicular accidents. It is not surprising that road accidents keep increasing day in day out with its adverse effect on the lives of road users and the country at large. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), 1.3million persons are killed and additional 30-50million are injured annually in road traffic accidents. The worst part of these statistics from WHO is that majority of the road crashes, that is over 85% occur in low and middle income countries where over 81% of the world's poor population live and own about 20% of the world's vehicles. Unfortunately most African countries and for that matter Ghana is placed in this category.
In Ghana, it does not get any better as statistics from the National Road Safety Commission indicates that between 1990 and 2010, a total of 200,678 crashes involving 311,075 vehicles were recorded with 272,689 casualties. There is a little respite in 2010 as compared to 2009 with a marginal reduction in crashes from 2009 figure of 12,299 to 11,506.Regional breakdown places the Greater, Ashanti and Eastern regions as the worst accident prone regions with the 2010 statistics for these aforementioned regions as 5122, 1944 and 1182 respectively.
Interestingly, rural areas where agriculture is the thriving economic activity are the worst affected in terms of bad roads. This has subsequently affected productivity in the agricultural sector which is the largest sector in the Ghanaian economy employing some 60% of the country's total employed labour. Farming and for that matter agriculture thrives on good transport system as most of the produce from agricultural activities are bulky and hence requires vehicular transport on motorable roads to the various marketing centers. However, the impassable roads coupled with inadequate storage facilities in the farming areas leads to recurring losses in earnings from agricultural sector culminating into low incomes, lower productivity among a host of other rippling adverse effects.
In concluding this piece I would appeal to the government of the day to endeavour to give facelift to the innumerable deplorable roads in the country especially the Nsawam-Suhum-Apedwa stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway, Nsawam-Adeiso, Suhum-Asamankese-Kade, Nkawkaw-Atibie among others. These roads are highlighted largely because they are in the domain of the writer not necessarily because they are the most important roads that may need urgent attention.
The writer, Kwaku Yeboah is 2011 BA Geography and Rural Development Holder from a reputable University in Ghana and is currently doing national service, he can be reached on [email protected]