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General News of Friday, 1 February 2008

Source: GNA

Deaths in motor accidents in VR increase

Ho, Feb. 1, GNA - A total of 169 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents on roads in the Volta Region in the past three years. Some 13 died in 2005, 24 in 2006 and 132 in 2007, National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) data available to the Ghana News Agency indicated.

A total 1,085 people were injured over the three years. This comprises 157 in 2005, 144 in 2006 and 784 in 2007. The data said 972 vehicles were involved in the accidents - 115 in 2005, 94 in 2006 and 763 in 2007. According to Police records captured by the NRSC data, Keta District recorded the highest deaths of 47, Tongu followed with 46, Ho, 21, Hohoe, 16 and Kete-Krachi, two.

Mr Elvis Gbesemete, Volta Regional Coordinator of the NRSC, listed causes of the rise in the accidents to include abysmal performance of traffic regulation enforcement authorities, poor standardization at the driver licensing authority, poor skills of drivers, bad roads and increase in vehicles on the roads.

He advocated for an increase in efficiency levels of Police road checks to improve the situation. Mr Gbesemete said the NRSC had provided Police with digital speed check equipment and that two Police officers from each region would be trained on their use.

He expressed worry about the low punitive actions against road users who infringe the laws, citing the Tongu area, which is part of the Trans ECOWAS Highway, where 120 vehicles were listed to be involved in accidents in 2007 with 46 dead but only 14 cases were sent to court. Mr Gbesemete observed that as the roads got better, drivers became more and more careless and often disregarded speed limits resulting. He attributed the high accident figures in the Keta area partly to the increasing number of vehicles using a detour to Accra through Anloga, because of the bad nature of the Aflao-Sogakope portion of the Accra-Aflao highway. "As the vehicles cram on that road, which is narrow and unmarked and passes through quite highly populated areas, and with drivers many from the sister West African countries exhibiting lack of discretion as a norm, the collisions and pedestrian knockings are many," Mr Gbesemete said.

He said there was need to establish high standards for drivers and suggested that the country should adopt a training programme that would in the near future grant driving permits to only people who had gone through accredited training institutions. Mr Gbesemete said while skills of drivers were not the best, many had refused to take advantage of training programmes. "We invited them to training sessions, where food is provided free and stipends for attendance given, but they refused to attend," he stated.

Mr Gbesemete also observed that the increasing numbers of vehicles on the roads, which show a trend a quarter every year, would definitely result in vehicular traffic control problems. He said number of cars had jumped from 750,000 in 2006 to over one million in 2007.

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