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23.03.2019 Feature Article

Road Accidents In Ghana: Blending The Esoteric And The Mundane

Road Accidents In Ghana: Blending The Esoteric And The Mundane

Today, the two road accidents that claimed the lives of about 90 people in Ghana have taken the wind out of my sail. My prayers and sympathies are with the bereaved families and friends. As the report on road accidents clearly indicates, most of the accidents on our roads are man-made (not necessarily human errors). Our refusal to reason on the road is leading many people to the grave 'prematurely'. It is sad that we easily give driving license to people without thorough and rigorous scrutiny.

Driving is a quite complex venture that must be in the hands of reasonable people. Elsewhere in the world, if you are not sane enough, you don't drive. But in Ghana, corruption, self-seeking, and ethnocentrism, undergirded by mis-education are undermining our nation (which is in a liminal/transitional stage) from stemming the tide against road accidents.

My observation is that we hardly value human life in Ghana. It is about time we had drivers applying for renewal of their license occasionally, based on how many times they have avoided 'accident'. It is not enough awarding drivers who drove safely. We need to start REVOKING the license of those who drive recklessly on the road.

Maintenance culture is very poor in our country. Elsewhere in England, even inter-city buses are thoroughly serviced regularly. To drive a public bus in England also involves a lot of savvy in cerebral things. One is thoroughly checked to prove that one is emotionally, visually, physically, and psychologically stable to hit the road.

Drivers must be literate and knowledgeable. Basic knowledge about driving is not enough to let loose anyone on the road. We cannot allow a bunch of dimwits to end our lives through their carelessness and mental deficiencies.

This is not to say that accidents do not happen in the 'developed' countries. Indeed, accidents do happen, but they are truly accidents. And when accidents happen, conscious efforts are made to prevent them from recurring. In Ghana, discourses on road accidents are suffocated by the blithe emotional outburst and partisan politics.

While neoliberalism advocates the state acting as 'invisible hand' in the running of the economy, the state must be deeply interested in regulating the activities of private transport owners. Measures must be put in place to ensure that they adhere to national and international safety measures.

Also, it is not enough for individuals to register their transport companies. The state must act as the mediator between transport owners and commuters to provide a supervisory role.

Furthermore, it is about time we fixed CCTVs in long-distance public buses. The means of reporting reckless drivers must also be boldly displayed on the bus. They must be informed about safety measures on the bus.

Similarly, drivers need ceremonial mental checkups to re-tune them to drive. There must also be regular refresher courses for them.

Potholes and 'manholes' on our roads should be fixed! Road markers/demarcations should be visible enough.

CCTVs must be placed at vantage points to capture and subsequently arrest reckless drivers. We must unburden the regular courts by creating transport courts to try reckless drivers.

My suggestions are based on the penchant of human beings to go the path of destruction. The unregenerate human being needs unambiguous laws and instructions to provide him or her guidance. Consequently, we cannot wish away road accidents with pittance and prayer alone.

To conclude, "The belief that God will do everything for man is as untenable as the belief that man can do everything for himself" (Martin Luther King Jr).

Let us blend faith and common sense on the road!
Charles Prempeh

Charles Prempeh
Charles Prempeh, © 2019

This author has authored 147 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: CharlesPrempeh

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