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Ghana’s Deadly Roads

April 05, 2018
tags:#Accra-Kumasi, #traffic, #road accidents, #infrastructure
by:Kwabena Adu Koranteng
Travelling on Ghana’s roads has become a nightmare as the country records more deaths from fatal road accidents.

So far, over 230 people have died in Ghana in road accidents between January and February 2018 and 2,671 have experienced serious injuries, according to figures from the Road Safety Commission.

As passengers blame drivers for speeding leading to fatal accidents, drivers are blaming the government for poor road construction, potholes and other problems.

The Accra-Kumasi highway, Accra Aflao-Togo border, Accra- Cape Coast through to Takoradi and Kumasi – Techiman-Kintampo through to Tamale highways are noted as hotspots for road crashes in Ghana.

In the Greater Accra region, the George Bush motorway alone has experienced 300 deaths as a result of road accidents since its construction in 2011, while the Tema motorway records over 200 deaths every year.

52-year-old Monica Tevi, who lost her daughter Esi Arabela Mensah recently in one of the fatal cars crashes between a VIP bus and a cargo truck near Suhum on the Accra Kumasi highway, blamed the driver of the VIP vehicle for speeding, hence his inability to control the bus when it was hit by the cargo truck which came its way.

According to Mrs Tevi, though it was obvious that the cargo truck veered onto the path of the bus, leading to the accident, more casualties were recorded as a result of the speeding bus. She also blamed the police for allowing heavy trucks to drive on highways at night.

“I want all the heavy trucks to be barred from travelling at night since most of the drivers get tired and unable to control the trucks. Some sleep in the process and as a result lose control of the trucks. We are losing so many people on our roads, it’s awful, and we need to curb it”

“Today I have lost my only daughter who would have been 18 in July this year through a road accident and nobody cares about what happens to me. No amount of sympathy and well wishes will bring my daughter back; I’m sad”

In a related development, 37-year-old Akua Dzako died instantly at big Ada junction in January 2018, when a Toyota Urvan bus she was travelling in from Aflao to Accra burst its front tyre. The vehicle somersaulted several times in the bush, hitting a rock in the process.

The deceased who was scheduled to marry in February 20th 2018 was returning from Togo’s capital, Lome where she had gone to buy vegetables to be sold in Ghana as part of her usual business activities. Her 70-year-old mother, Afua Dzako, who had partially gone blind due to old age, was sad that her daughter could not give her a grandchild before departing. “She told me she was going on a business trip and on her return she would visit and update me on her upcoming marriage ceremony. I woke up the next day only to be told of her death by her friends”. I still don’t believe my daughter is dead, I want her to come back and take care of me” she said, as she sobbed.

The painful story of Martin Ayeh, a 48-year-old factory hand who has survived four different deadly accidents is also recounted. “In 2004, I experienced my first car crash in the centre of Accra which almost disabled me. I spent about six months at the Korle-Bu Teaching hospital before being discharged. This was followed by another strange car crash in 2009 at Abeka Lapaz and another one in 2012. The last one happened in 2017 August on the Tema Aflao highway when I was visiting my hometown Akatsi. A car from the opposite lane veered into our lane and hit the car I was travelling in.

All I heard was “bam” sound. As I speak to you here at the 37 military hospital. My two legs are broken into pieces and the doctors are working hard to treat me. I appreciate their effort and I thank God for helping me survive accidents on four occasions”.

Martin blames drivers for not adhering to road traffic signs, poor regulatory and law enforcement on the part of the police and the road traffic agencies like the road safety commission.

According to The Executive Director of National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), Engineer May Obiri Yeboah, figures collated by her outfit on the numerous road crashes recorded on roads in Ghana shows that most drivers do not act in accordance with road signs.

“Preliminary investigations conducted by the National Road Safety Commission on the above crashes have revealed multiple contributory factors. The most prevalent among the factors being negligence and disregard for road traffic regulations on the part of the drivers involved in the crashes, particularly excessive speeding ( usually referred to as over-speeding) and overtaking without due care for on-coming vehicles (referred to as wrongful overtaking) Other contributing factors are deficiencies associated with road infrastructure. ”.

She was emphatic that the absence of road signs, roadway markings, street lighting and safe crossing facilities for pedestrians are issues that continue to find space in the list of crash contributory factors.

“I cannot talk about the road crashes and not talk about the danger confronting motorists at the appropriate traffic management and safety signs and expose motorists to open trenches and physical objects without any protection”.

She believes the Ghana Highway Authority and Department of Urban Roads will be in the best position to answer the following questions “who or which agency awarded the contract to the contractor? Was there any provision made in the contract for work-zone safety? Who is responsible for ensuring compliance by the contractor? What are the sanctions for non-compliance?, Why are road signs and markings not in place? Why are they faded and not remarked or replaced? Why are there no street lights?”

Engineer May Obiri Yeboah said some of the contributory factors to the avoidable road crashes are the non-roadworthy vehicles, unqualified drivers and gross indiscipline by the majority of road users.

The task of ensuring safety on our roads is a shared and collective responsibility. Everyone must play his/her role. The government on its parts has, through the passing of the Road Traffic Act and Regulations (e.g. Road Traffic Act 683 of 2004 and Road Traffic Regulations 2012, LI 2180), provided policy and Regulations for safe management of transport and traffic in the country. It required that institutions and individuals apply the provisions for the good of public safety on our roads”.

She said her commission, as the lead agency for road safety management in the country, is consistently at the forefront carrying out education and sensitisation programmes across the country and constantly engaging stakeholders at all levels to take the necessary steps in their various endeavours to prevent human deaths and injuries on our roads.

She also said, on their part, they are doing everything possible within their mandate to prevent road accidents but most of the crashes occurring on the roads could have been prevented if all road safety stakeholders and parties involved acted in compliance with the existing safety procedures, standards and regulations.

The NRSC is, therefore, seeking more powers as it stated that, “it is important that our role as a lead agency is legally enhanced to ensure that we are able to compel institutions whose operations have a bearing on safety on our roads to adhere to standards.

The NRSC is as a matter of urgency calling on NGOs, CSOs, Religious Bodies, Traditional councils/leaders, Professional Bodies, Musicians, and captains of industry and the Media especially to discuss road safety at their various platforms since the fight against road accidents can only be fought and won collectively.

Article written by:
Kwabena Adu Koranteng
Embed from Getty Images
So far, over 230 people have died in Ghana in road accidents between January and February 2018 and 2,671 have experienced serious injuries.
Embed from Getty Images
“I want all the heavy trucks to be barred from travelling at night since most of the drivers get tired and unable to control the trucks."
Embed from Getty Images
As passengers blame drivers for speeding leading to fatal accidents, drivers are blaming the government for poor road construction, potholes and other problems.
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