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Feature Article of Sunday, 5 July 2009

Columnist: Afriyie, Meshack Opoku

Why Hate Traffic and Accidents But Still Cause It?

Lately driving in the city of Accra has become very stressful and tiring. Most people are of the view that there are too many cars on our roads and the roads in good condition are few, which I tend to agree with them.

Traffic on our roads is very serious nowadays especially when you leave town around 5:00pm onwards. And with the rains around, if you don’t own your own vehicle then you are in for a whole lot of trouble. Either no means of transport or absurd charter prices from taxi cab drivers or staying in traffic to the extent that you begin to watch your fuel gauge.

With all these hurdles to cross before getting to your destination, there are some hurdles which really need to be redressed.

It is dishearten and annoying to be driving in traffic only to realize that the main cause of the traffic; is someone driving and talking on his or her mobile phone at the same time forgetting that the right thing to do is just finding a safe place to park and then have your conversation. I simply can’t comprehend why people can’t just do this very simple thing. Sometime back in the United Kingdom there were some accidents which later investigation through Traffic Surveillance Camera showed that the major cause was due to the fact that the drivers were obstructed by their mobile phones so they didn’t notice the pedestrian or the on-coming vehicle. This then brought the strict enforcement of a law which banned the use of cell phones whiles driving. Interesting enough, pedestrians and drivers in Accra are also do same, that’s busy walking around distracted by their headsets and crossing roads without caution or driving without focus, sound mind and concentration.

I stand to be corrected but I believe there is a law which prevents drivers from driving and talking on the phone as well. Sometimes I get scared when I see mothers who have children at the back of their cars doing same. And not forgetting our busy business men and women who don’t know when and where to put a lash on their jobs or activities. What breaks my heart the most is that when you tell them to park in order to receive their calls, they rather snub or even insult you.

I ask myself, do people drive with ‘Television licenses or the certified driving licenses and do they even know what the Ghana Highway Code book contain.’ Or it’s because we are black and have a black mental as I hear people say. I wonder if most of the commercial or ‘trotro’ drivers passed their entire driving assessment test (the theory, road signs and practical aspects). The reason why am stressing on this is because most drivers don’t respect the traffic signal lights, practice safe driving precautions like knowing where to place the triangle when your vehicle has broken down, overall stopping distance among others. Hmmm….I don’t know if drivers are just refusing to see and obey the road signs or rather want to take matters into their own hands. if you mostly ply the Lapaz – Mallam Junction Road, you would understand what am talking about. Most of the vehicular traffic on the Lapaz – Mallam road is due to drivers not responding and obeying the traffic signal lights. This is rampant at the Kwashiman and Awoshie junctions and it’s an eyesore during the evening, all the chaos is simply because some drivers run the ‘red light’. So do drivers on our roads want the traffic lights and highway codes be implanted in their brains before we can have order and smooth vehicular movement on our roads?

I have observed some young guys who have being conducting traffic on our roads when there is confusion or traffic jam on our roads. They are doing a tremendous job and the government can use them because the so called ‘Kuffour Police’ presence aren’t felt everywhere except at places where VIPs pass.

Oh before it slips my mind, we can’t apportion all the blame to drivers but also to those who design the layouts of our roads and contractors as well. The reason I say this is because some of our roads have dangerous patterns or layouts. One perfect case study is the first junction at the Mallam- Kasoa road (around Marcarthy Hills, precisely after the Total gas station).I think the layout used there is wrong, the Ghana Highway Authority should have considered using the Odorkor-Mallam junction layout(where the traffic light allows vehicles from Odorkor join the Main Kaneshie road).This is due to the fact that the direction of vehicular movements within the Odorkor Traffic light area are the same as the Marcarthy / Hillview junction. I just hope some logic would be seen in these suggestions because the means by which vehicles from Marcarthy Hills around Hillview enter the Main Kasoa road in order to head towards Kaneshie is very dangerous. We don’t have to wait till we hear that an important personality has died there before something is done about, for every Ghanaian life is important.

So good people of Accra I know there is traffic and ‘pot h oles on our roads’ but observing these little rules could save everybody time, money and our lives.

By; Meshack Opoku Afriyie

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