The ‘Murder’ on Ghana Roads, Whose Fault? Part VI
The previous writings under this heading, focused on the contribution of Ghana’s roads and motorists to the rampant and unimaginable road killings in Ghana, unfortunately termed ‘accidents’ instead of murder.
Moving from first gear to second gear in the pursuit of factors contributing to the carnage on Ghana’s roads, are the personnel charged with providing sanity on our roads, but who, from all indications, have shrieked that responsibility in the name of everyone’s guess. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), the Police Service and specifically, the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD), and the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), are all contributors to the ‘murder’ on Ghana roads.
On several occasions, one drives past vehicles that have broken down at dangerous sections of the road, and the Police who are supposed to ensure some kind of safety on our roads, drive past, unconcerned. It is a common sight to see vehicles that have broken down on the brow of hills, on steep bends, etc., where it is practically impossible to see further up the road in order to undertake a safe maneuver, and there will be no warning signs posted to warn approaching traffic of the hazard ahead, and the Police see it as none of their business! In other parts of the world, where citizens’ lives are valued, the Police will be on hand to place warning signs from a mile distance in either direction to give motorists a prior warning regarding the danger ahead in order to save lives and property. In addition, if there are gantries fitted on some sections of the road, the control room displays the relevant warning on the gantry in addition to those placed by the Police at the scene. But in Ghana, what do we see?
Another common sight on Ghana roads, is debris on the road. At times this is as a result of falling trees or tree branches or in some other instances, remnants of burst tyres scattered on the road. The Police and the NRSC sees nothing wrong with this. Suffice is to say that, any of these foreign materials on the road can fly onto the windscreen of a motorist and cause damage or injury. In the UK, the Police will stop the traffic on that section of the road and hand pick the debris.
Taking it a step further, the question of some ‘scrap’ plying Ghana’s roads, ignorantly referred to as vehicles/lorries cannot be sidestepped. There are times one sees a rickety vehicle on the road, and a rational human being will not expect such scrap material meant for the scrapyard to make it past the next Police check point, but low and behold, such vehicles are not even stopped by the Police, because they are regulars and have paid their daily ‘toll’, hence their ‘free passage’. Those Police Officers doing that, must note that, accidents are no respecters of persons.
That overloaded vehicle with the defective breaks, defective steering, defective lights, invisible registration plates, bald tyres that have no grip on the road, and other countless defects that is allowed to pass freely without being taken off the road, is an accident waiting to happen, and when it happens, it can take anyone of us along, the Police not exempted. On numerous occasions, there are reports of accidents that has claimed the lives of Police personnel or caused injury to them, in instances, where they were not passengers onboard such vehicles.
They were merely doing their ‘useless’ vehicle checks on the hard shoulder of the road (innocent bystander). The latest accident where a Police Officer was maimed happened at Kasoa in the Central Region, near the Kasoa Police Station, where during one of those ‘useless, time wasting and needless’ road checks, a rickety trotro failed breaks and run into a journalist and a Police Officer, killing the journalist and injuring the Police Officer in the process.
The contribution of the DVLA and ‘suicide drivers’ to the mayhem on Ghana roads is next. If a prospective driver is not taught how to drive by a recognised and licensed driving school, and the DVLA fails to carry out a proper driving test of applicants before issuing licenses, then what is that person other than a suicide driver?
To be continued!!
Alhassan Salifu Bawah
School of Administration
University of Education, Winneba
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