Thursday, 4 April 2013

Addressing Carnage On Our Roads

It is rather unfortunate Ghana is gradually consolidating an unenviable position where road accident is seen as a major cause of death in the country. That the number of lives perished on our roads is higher than those killed by malaria and HIV/AIDS gives credence to this assertion. It is sad that Ghana even though is not engaged in any conventional war with any enemy, the roads have been and continue to be the fiercest battle ground one can think of. That is to say, the carnage on the roads is the worst common enemy of Ghanaians. Some of the vehicles that ply our roads can aptly be described as walking chimneys. If one is unfortunate to trail one of them on a busy highway in a car without air conditioner over a long time, the amount of poison one will inhale can damage ones system more than what a life- long chain smoker will suffer.

The causes of accidents on our roads are not far-fetched. They can broadly be put under these sub groupings such as human, mechanical and structural errors. There is no doubt that human error constitutes the most prevalent cause of accidents on our roads. What we even normally call accidents are not accidents in the right sense of the word but rather negligence, carelessness and sometimes plain foolhardiness on the part of the roads users. For instance, the law says that, if you drink, don’t drive and if you drive don’t drink. This has become a common cliché but people drink, drive and demonstrate madness on our roads and when there is accident they attribute it to the making of spiritual forces. One cannot talk of accidents on our roads without talking about what one may term ``the devil of the three overs`` namely, over speeding, over loading and wrong over taking. All these become prevalent during special occasions like Christmas and Easter. One thing that has been causing fatal accidents on our roads is broken down vehicles on our roads without proper warning signs. It is rather very sad and the same time funny to see that leaves are used as warning signs on our roads; a language understood by only Ghanaians. These leaves are not reflective and visible enough to be seen from afar especially, in the night apart from the fact that they can easily get dried up and be blown away by wind. Even those who have the correct triangle signs sometimes wrongly place them. Either they are placed very close to the stationary vehicles or sometimes on top of it. In that case the driver of the on-coming vehicle can only sport it when it is too late. Again, most of our roads do not have road signs and road markings. Unfortunately, the few roads signs are either overgrown with weeds, stolen or have fallen down. One dangerous structural error that causes a lot of accidents is potholes on tarred roads some of which can best be described as manholes. As a matter of fact, human errors cut across other causes of accidents. What we even call mechanical faults can many a time be further traced to human negligence. For instance, transport owners telling their drivers to go to work one more time when they know the tyres of their vehicles are worn out.

Preventing accidents should be seen as collective responsibility of all well-meaning Ghanaians because everybody runs the risks of being victims. The fight must start from the remotest cause to the most immediate ones. For example, importation of inferior auto parts into the country should be checked with all the seriousness it deserves as is done in the case of fake drugs. If a mechanic does shoddy work on a vehicle and he is found out he should be dealt with as a criminal. The executive of transport organization and station masters should be educated to be interested not only in the booking fees but in the lives of innocent passengers. It is their duty to make sure that the vehicles and drives they load at their lorry parks are in good condition to convey the passengers safely to their destination. Every district should acquire a towing truck so that when a vehicle breaks down on any road, it is towed as soon as possible to a safe place for a fee. There should be frequent maintenance of roads by the authorities concerned. Let us all with unity of purpose reduce to the barest minimum the carnages on our roads or eliminates it completely before it eliminate us.


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