Kumasi, April 23, GNA - A total of 187 lives were claimed through motor accidents in the first quarter of this year in the Ashanti region, compared to 98 lives lost within the same period last year. Police Chief Superintendent Augustine Gyening, Ashanti Regional Commander of the Police Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU), who announced this, described the figure for the first quarter of this year as alarming.
He was addressing the first quarterly meeting of stakeholders in the transport industry in the region in Kumasi on Thursday. The meeting also coincided with the inauguration of a drivers' school established by the Ashanti Regional Road Safety Committee at a cost of over 18 million cedis.
Chief Superintendent Gyening observed that the figure for lives lost in the whole of 2003 stood at 395 and expressed fears that with the trend this year, the figure might drastically shoot up if more aggressive measures were not immediately put in place to check reckless driving.
The MTTU commander attributed the rise in motor accidents in the region mainly to the large number of drivers' unions, which he said stood at about 13, saying, this large number of unions had led to the breakdown of discipline in the driving profession. "Any attempt by union leaders to discipline any driver leads to the departure of the driver to a competing union or at worse the formation of a new union by the undisciplined driver," he added. Chief Superintendent Gyening said besides, the lack of knowledge of road signs by drivers and also the failure to obey traffic regulations had equally been contributory factors to the motor accidents.
He said checking the unfortunate phenomenon demanded the active involvement of all stakeholders including transport owners, the police, road planners and users.
Mr Sampson Kwaku Boafo, Ashanti Regional Minister, who inaugurated the school, was not happy that both commercial and private vehicle drivers continued to use mobile phones while driving.
He noted that such a practice was a major source of accidents and urged the Ministry of Roads and Transport and the various motor unions to press for a law banning the use of mobile phones while driving. The Ashanti Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police Fosu Mensah Gyeabour, entreated drivers to carefully study the traffic regulations and practically abide by them.