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General News of Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Source: GNA

Ghana losing vital human resources

..through road accidents
Accra, Dec. 13, GNA - Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, on Wednesday expressed concern about the rate at which Ghana was losing vital human resource through road accidents. "The spate of road traffic accidents in Ghana is a matter of great concern to all citizens. Road traffic accidents are claiming the lives of productive and youthful members of our nation," she noted.

"A single life lost through road traffic accident is unacceptable since every citizen has a part to play in the development of the economy," Hajia Mahama said in a speech read for her by Ms Marian Tackie, a Director at the Ministry, at a day's road safety awareness workshop organized by the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) in Accra.

The workshop, which is under the theme: "The Role of Women in Ensuring Safety on our Roads", brought together about 200 participants drawn from various women associations and child welfare organizations. It was aimed at informing and empowering women on road safety, getting them actively involved in road safety issues and reaching out to other road users through the women.

Hajia Mahama noted that road safety was a major developmental issue that deserved serious attention by all including politicians, State officials and women in particular since they bore the brunt of road accidents like in all disaster situations.

She said the road safety problem had been worsened by lack of education with the resultant poor driving practices, poorly maintained vehicles and low level of voluntary compliance with traffic laws and regulations.

Inadequate road infrastructure, resource constraints and ineffective traffic law enforcement have compounded the situation. Hajia Mahama said statistics of road accidents showed that 58 per cent of all road fatalities involved persons who fell within the age of 16 years to 45 years, the most active age group. She noted that most breadwinners fell within this age bracket thereby causing a considerable economic burden to the victims' relations.

"The grief, sorrow and loss to the relations especially the spouses and children cannot be quantified. Poverty strikes or worsens in the family resulting in school drop-outs and development of vagabonds, child prostitutes, among other things."

Hajia Mahama also noted with concern that child fatality in road traffic accidents was also high, with about 25 per cent of all fatalities being children under 16 years.

However, over the past years, there has been an increasing awareness on the need to address road safety in the context of a global public health issue.

She gave the assurance that the Government was committed to ensuring that the country's human resource base was safe and secured to ensure sustainable development and growth. She cautioned that the improvement of roads and an increase in the road network should not prove to be the bane but rather a catalyst for accelerated development.

Hajia Mahama emphasized that road safety should not be seen as the sole responsibility of the NRSC, the Police and other Government agencies.

"We all have a responsibility to ensure our safety on the road and, therefore, must see accident prevention task as part of our roles and responsibilities."

She commended measures taken by the NRSC to make the nation's roads safer through better engineering, education, enforcement of regulations and more effective emergency services for accident victims. Mr Noble Appiah, Acting Executive Director of the NRSC, urged Ghanaians to take road traffic regulations seriously because everyone was vulnerable to road traffic accidents.