Akosombo, (E/R) Nov. 10, GNA - Stakeholders in the transport sector are meeting at Akosombo to review a draft document on vehicle testing standards in the country.
The 48-page document prepared by the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and Vehicle Inspectorate of the United Kingdom is expected to improve road safety and ensure that roadworthy vehicles ply the roads.
The draft document would be put before Parliament soon after its review by Transport owners, car dealers, National Road Safety Commission, Environmental Protection Agency and Ghana Standard Board among others. Opening the three-day workshop, Dr Richard W. Anane, Minister of Roads and Transport in a speech read on his behalf, said the two most common causes of motor accidents in the country were driver error and poor vehicle condition.
Dr Anane said though the nation had been able to tackle driver error element through institutional arrangement and education, vehicle roadworthiness had not been adequately dealt with. He said, "it has become common to see vehicles with improper or non functioning lights, defective brakes, thread bare tyres, absent or defective seat belts, smoking exhaust and generally poor body conditions on our roads.
This situation is particularly common among commercial vehicles and vehicles found in the rural areas." According to Dr Anane those problems had arisen because the DVLA did not have comprehensive standard and accompanying vehicle testing procedures. Dr Anane pointed out that the Road Traffic Act, Act 683, which was enacted last year, had given the Ghana Police Service wide-ranging powers to enforce the wearing of seat belts by commercial drivers. The Minister said the introduction of the comprehensive vehicle testing standards by the DVLA would in no doubt complement and reinforce the provision of the road traffic Act.
Dr Anane said his ministry would assist the DVLA and the Ghana Police Service to acquire the necessary equipment to undertake vigorous vehicle testing and routine checks by the Police.
He advised the stakeholders to explore possibilities of engaging the private sector in vehicle inspection and ensure that a consensus document would be acceptable to all players in the transport industry. Dr Anane encouraged private transport unions to develop a mechanism to ensure that all the vehicles belonging to the respective unions comply with the standards all year round.
He commended some transport union branches for inspecting vehicles before allowing passengers to board vehicles adding, "the ministry would like to see this replicated through out the country when vehicles testing standards come into effect.
I will advocate that transport operating union engage the DVLA and the National Safety commission in streamlining this initiative." The Minister also appealed to the universities and polytechnics to incorporate the finalized testing standards into their teaching programmes.
Mr. Joe Osei Wusu, Chief Executive of DVLA said the meeting "was to pave way for the much awaited and much touted private sector participation in vehicle examination for road worthiness to begin." According to him, the current testing for roadworthiness was "a far cry from what can be said to be sufficient to ensure vehicle safety". Mr Wusu explained that the infrastructure requirement and equipment that would ensure an efficient vehicle testing was enormous and expensive.
"When the equipment breaks down as result of exhaustion or mechanical failure they are not replaced for a long time," he pointed out added.
Mr Wusu said the only alternative was to admit private participation in vehicle testing and "release DVLA to be the regulator and auditor of private garages."