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Opinions of Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Columnist: Robert Abalungo

Upsurge in road road accidents

It’s my turn to turn in some pages to lament the negligence of governmental agencies and horrible road users whose combined inattention has prematurely sent innocent citizens to eternal rest, while incapacitating myriad more. Almost every day, gory images ceaselessly greet our senses. The swiftest response to these mishaps is nothing but highly equipped media personalities with state-of-the-art photographical devices who throng to make profit from eyesores.

The spate of road accidents in our country has gathered a nerve-racking momentum, crisscrossing at relativistic speeds through all longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates of our beloved nation. In the midst of these preventable disasters, political players keep failing the masses.

It’s regrettable that 21st century citizens die animalistically after queuing unwearyingly to cast votes for self-centered looters. No wonder, some of us never raise political fingers. Ordinary accident victims lie and gnash for hours at the scenes, due to lack emergency services from ambulances. A politician in a similar disaster is quickly airlifted to the hospital. Ha-ha! Ghana is beautiful.

In the wake of these avertible misfortunes, I have been necessitated to dig into the roots of road accidents in Ghana. Bad roads are inarguably the principal causes of accidents. Politicians award cheap contracts to civil engineers who rush to complete projects in order meet government deadlines. In their quest to hastily commission new development projects to appease voters, politicians give unreasonable deadlines for contractors to finish projects.

The engineers then also try to speed up the execution of their work in order not to miss their economic gains. The output of these collusion between government and contractors is shoddy work. Newly asphalted roads to begin to wear out in split seconds, creating potholes. It can be very difficult for even experienced drivers to carefully navigate these curvy and guttered roads without colliding with oncoming traffic.

Careless drivers also never disappoint us when it comes to their contribution to the carnage on our roads. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) of Ghana is completely rotten to its core. They do nothing apart from churning out dangerous and unqualified drivers to fill our roads. The corruption in this road safety institution is too much, such that illiterate driving candidates can secure a driver’s license in a matter of few weeks.

Shockingly, the examinations conducted to recruit qualified drivers are nothing but leaked answers; not questions. What is the use of the Road Safety Commission and the minister for roads and highways? Can’t they interrogate and prosecute the corrupt staff in DVLA? Nothing except an accident is expected from an unqualified driver who bribes his way to secure a driver’s license.

If we mean to tackle the threats of road accidents, we must begin from the authorities who produce these unskilled drivers. It senseless to wait for an unqualified driver to cause accidents and kill people. Which situation is nonsensical than a police officer arresting a careless driver who wasn’t even supposed to be found on the road? It is mostly unqualified drivers who disregard road signs and get involved in accidents.

Improper vehicle maintenance also plays a major role in road accidents. Again, the national road safety commission fail to monitor the state of vehicular machines on our roads. I found it so troubling and baffling when a Metro Mass Transit bus en route to Tamale from Kumasi failed its breaks, and smashed head-on into a loaded truck. The accident left more than 70 fatalities with bereaved families. The obvious cause of this accident was improper vehicle inspection and maintenance.

Some officers at the security check-points on our roads are hungry beggars. They condone and connive with owners of rickety vehicles to allow them use unsafe vehicles to transport goods and people. These non-roadworthy vehicles eventually run over people. We sit down and shamelessly describe such occurrences as accident. They are not accidents; they are planned murders.

Finally, irresponsible passengers sometimes instigate road accidents. Occupants in a vehicle should be dutiful by cautioning drivers when they exceed speed limits. As a passenger, your safety lies in the hands of the driver. In the light of this, if a passenger decides to stay mute while riding with a careless driver, he shouldn’t be surprised to meet an untimely death.

Another example could be a case whereby a money-loving driver tries to overload a vehicle. Occupants in such a vehicle have a moral responsibility to resist the driver’s decision. In an interestingly twist of events, some naïve and careless passengers also interfere with the mental concentration of their drivers. Some passengers incite drivers to accelerate so that they would reach their destinations in time. Scientifically, speeding vehicles are highly incontrollable. Accidents eventually set in as a result of passenger interference with drivers.

In conclusion, we learnt that some causes of road accidents include poor roads, unqualified drivers, dilapidated vehicles and reckless passengers. The number of precious souls claimed by road accidents on our roads is alarming and we need lasting solutions to dip these fatal figures. Government should be ready to construct and improve road networks in the country. Engineers should be given enough time to finish projects. Finally, the Ghana road safety commission and all concerned bodies should wake up from their slumber.

Stay Safe on the road. Be Watchful for careless drivers.

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