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Opinions of Monday, 29 June 2020

Columnist: Michael Osei Owusu

The politics of transport and road safety

The alarming rate of injuries and deaths has undoubtedly increased public concern for stricter government and corporate action on Ghana’s road transport system.

The very fact that road transport is essential for the sustenance of everyday life and that its services are forever in the public eye makes it a prime target for election manifestos, thus, our urgent appeal to the politicians to have it incorporated with clear and convincing strategies and executions to curtail this canker without which the voters must be advised not to vote such party into power.

This will involve making informed, well-judged choices about how our transport services should be. We know that infrastructure can take many years to plan, design and build but human lives cannot be left to futuristic half-hearted planning and that the decisions we take today will determine how our transport system operates in the years ahead devoid of preventable accidents.

Transport is the central element in human endeavors which requires purposeful systemic and strategic approach to ensure its safety, effectiveness and efficiency. Indeed, transportation reaches into every phase and facet of our existence, therefore, making it the supporting foundation for political, socio-economic, national defense etc. is to any nation’s advantage to growth.

ENSURING DISCIPLINE TO CURB ROAD CARNAGE

Drivers play a critical role in the optimal operation of road transport services and their challenges are enormous which include, but not limited to:

regularly experiencing hostile emotions and violent fantasies

unawareness of their errors and style of driving

resistance to change and lack the skills to change or to improve

drivers are not taught to deal with their own emotions in traffic and lack the skills for self-control in traffic situations

drivers live in a conflictual mental state, accepting traffic regulations in an ideal sense, but rejecting them in an actual sense (e.g., speed limits, blood alcohol level, signaling regulations, parking violations, required maintenance, seat belt use, child restraints, etc.) Our rational mind supports these as necessary for the public good; but our lower mind desires to make excuses for our transgressions. We drive in this fog of conflict, with the result that we regularly break the traffic laws and engage in either risky or aggressive driving, or both.

Comparatively, pilots and automobile drivers have a direct relation to human lives and so they require adequate preparedness, comprehensive training, strict adherence to rules and regulations, as well as firm enforcement to standards to ensure proficiency and safe practice.

Evidently, authorities overseeing the aviation profession do not compromise on standards in training, safety and enforcement, leaving the driver little or no satisfying training and enforcement. Yet, they are massively destroying innocent lives because many perceive road traffic laws more as nuisance than as hard-set rules to live and drive-by for the safety of all road users, hence, the unnecessary and preventable injuries, maiming and deaths on our roads.

Worldwide, governments pay lip service and nibble at the subject but, to date there has been little concerted remedial action. One of the primary means to restrain indiscipline on the road is ensuring the enforcement of the law. Note, Human laws, Police forces and Judicial systems provide a powerful deterrent to evil and indiscipline actions, which are necessary, because of the much evil in people that is irrational and can only be restrained by force, since it cannot be deterred by reason or education only.

IN AN EVENT OF ACCIDENT:

Cyclists want routes that are safe, easy to access and link directly to the places they need to visit. Pedestrians want safe walkways, safe connections with whichever transport mode they wish to join and, driver’s wants a well signposted route. In fact, almost all road users wish for safer roads but lack of road sense is causing us hugely particularly on the part of motorist.

Road transport, because of its sheer convenience and easy accessibility in the world especially in developing nations, it is a highly popular alternative to air transport. The number now on the roads is phenomenal, many of whom—the driver’s as well as operators (unlike the other modes) although “qualified” are inexperienced and unskilled! This does have considerable operational repercussions.

In other to ensure its safe operations there are a number of interrelated bodies and individuals which a remedial surveillance which should be enforced strictly on them including punishment. These are:

The transport operator/company

The driver

The Driver and Vehicle licensing Authority

The transport manager

The mechanic

The spare part dealer

The Ghana Standard Authority,

The insurance company,

The Ministry of Roads and Highways,

Road contractors, and

Ghana Police Service (MTTD).

The above organizations and individuals operating licenses should be revoked for months and year (s) depending on the severity of accident or negligence and a complete dismissal from the industry to serve as a deterrent for others.

Conclusion:

People generally have become increasingly aware of the resultant ill effects that are being witnessed across the world. Hence, and again mainly in the developing and developed world, there is a growing awareness of the need to moderate or prevent what in the longer term could be dire effects. Safe travel should not be left to religious faith, hope and good luck. It requires: Commonsense; Road Sense; Discipline, etc.

In a nutshell, regardless of the mode, the prime objective of the transport industry must be satisfactory and Safe Arrival at an acceptable cost.

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