Feature Article of Wednesday, 4 July 2012
Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta
By Kwesi Atta Sakyi
2nd July 2012
Road safety is cardinal to development because the high toll of deaths due to fatal road accidents, leads to heavy loss of human capital. Our roads in Accra need to be worked on to bring them up to international standards, as some are narrow and congested, especially in the oldest parts of the city. Where the roads are modern and wide, motorists cruise at breakneck speeds, despite speed traps such as humps, speed cameras and road speed limit signs. The very recent multiple accident along the George Bush Highway is a case in point. I think more speed cameras need to be mounted by the traffic police to apprehend offenders and bring them to book. Another cause of accidents on our roads is the lack of road worthiness of some of the vehicles on our roads. Some drivers fail to do routine and periodic checks on their vehicles. Besides, some of the commercial drivers overload the vehicles, exceeding the threshold carrying capacity of the manufacturers. We need to have very conspicuous speed limit signs all over the city. The Accra Metropolitan Authority is doing their best, yet road users such as pedestrians, vendors, hawkers, among others pose challenges to them. The street vendors obstruct traffic and also they litter the streets and drainage channels, which end up getting cluttered with plastic bags and all manner of waste and disposables. Sidewalks and pedestrian lanes are hardly found along most roads. This is a clear sign of poor planning, sometimes caused by lack of space for such. We need more street patrols by the traffic police and stringent application of the Highway Code. Sometimes, bribery and corruption rears its ugly head and causes the law to be flouted with impunity by road-users.
It is about time we installed road signs and street names all over Accra to aid motorists and to boost tourism. Many avoidable accidents have occurred because of lack of adequate road signs in the city. A case in point is the Malam-La Paz-Abeka interchanges which have no warning signs of approaching bends and curves. The inspectorate division of the metropolitan police should jack up their act by putting more men and vehicles on the streets of Accra to inspect driving licences and road worthy certificates. This exercise often draws the ire of the public who mistakenly and erroneously conclude that the police are out to take bribes. But is that not for our long-run good? Drivers’ unions should educate and sensitise their members to drive safely by obeying the Highway Code, by not over speeding, wrong overtaking, wrong parking with no reflectors or triangles on the road, overloading their vehicles, among many offences. The much-talked about mass transit system can also be implemented by government to reduce the number of private vehicles on our roads. The Ministries of Works, Transport, Highways and Communications should coordinate their actions by reducing the wear and tear of our roads by awarding road contracts to competent contractors and undertaking regular maintenance of the roads. More ring roads and by-passes should be constructed around the city to decongest the CBD of Accra. We may in future have to relocate the international airport, as well as decentralise some of the primate city functions of Accra. We look forward fervently to the Accra City upgrading project which is being done in partnership with the Columbia University in the USA, under the leadership of Professor Jeffrey Sachs.