700 perish, 4,000 injured in 6 months but Minister says 90% are preventable
The Minister for Roads and Transport, Hon. Richard Anane, has revealed that between January and June, this year over 700 persons were killed in road traffic accidents alone, while more than 4,000 others sustained various degrees of injury.
This figure, he said, is unacceptable, and can be reduced drastically, if road users would stay focused and government institutions whose roles are to implement its vision and objectives for road safety are adequately equipped.
This was contained in a speech read on his behalf by his deputy, Hon. Emmanuel Adjei-Boye, at the opening of a two-day workshop for 30 participants on "Road Safety Management Practices" here on Tuesday, this week.
The minister contended that since road accidents are largely caused by human factors and not by any act of God, 90% of them are preventable.
He therefore urged participants to appreciate the scale and magnitude of the problem at hand and resolve to address them at every level.
"With commitment, passion and hard work from stakeholders involved in road safety effort, we can and must reverse the unacceptably high level of road accidents," he stressed.
Hon. Anane pointed out further that; "The combination of effective, focused road user education, publicity, information, enforcement of traffic regulations and road safety engineering measures hold the key for road accident reduction on the country's roads."
He lamented that against the unquantifiable pain and grief associated with road accidents, coupled with the resultant loss and maiming of loved ones or breadwinners in the families and communities, the number of persons killed or injured are simply worrisome.
According to him, the reduction and prevention of accidents is a shared responsibility, and requires a concerted multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder effort. He added government has, over the past three years, demonstrated its commitment by providing resources to key stakeholders directly responsible for road safety.
Dr. Anane assured that by December, this year, the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) would have moved into a permanent office building provided by government. Apart from that the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) would receive four recovery heavy trucks, more radar guns, breathalyzers, and reflective vests.
The minister also hinted that a comprehensive Road Traffic Bill, with considerable provisions for road safety, would have been enacted, hoping also that the decline of fatality rate from 31 deaths per 10,000 vehicles in 2001 to 27 in 2003 would be further reduced to a single digit.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Volta regional minister, Hon. Kwasi Owusu Yeboah, said the nation could not be losing such a large number of its citizenry, through accidents, when the victims could have contributed positively to prosecute the development agenda of the nation.
"As a developing country, we need to spend every single pesewa available on the socio-economic development of the country. It is therefore not in the national interest for us to continue spending our scarce resources repairing road accident damage," he noted.
Yeboah lamented the fact that the Tema-Aflao road now ranks the 33rd among the worst 50 accident-prone locations in the whole country, and appealed to the NRSC to extend all necessary support to the regional office in Ho to enable it to discharge its responsibilities effectively and measure up to expectation.
He also called for the urgent establishment of the department of Urban Roads in the region so that the high expectation of the people did not degenerate into a frustration.
In the first six months of the year, the region recorded 284 accidents involving 409 vehicles with 42 casualties. This is seen as an improvement on last year's, where 64 lives were lost in 253 road accidents over the same period.
Keta district currently ranks the highest with the most reported cases of road accidents, while Akatsi district has the lowest number of cases.
Present at the workshop were Johnson Aboagye, national chairman (NRSC), Steve Serlomey, regional coordinating director, and Commissioner Kofi Duku Arthur, Volta regional police commander.