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Opinions of Thursday, 7 April 2016

Columnist: Acquaye, Felix

Accident alarm! Circle-Shalom stretch

By Felix Acquaye, Resident, Korle-Gonno 6th April 2016

There is a dark cloud hanging on the necks of commuters plying the road from Circle to Shalom-Shalom in Korle-Gonno, a suburb of Accra. The approximately 10 kilometres journey can be described as one of a death-trap. For one to patronize those 1970-80 outmoded long Benz buses means committing “suicide”. This I would say without mincing my words.

Permit my words. Drivers plying that stretch display a high-sense of “stupidity”, “buffoonery” and “heartlessness” and I have no regrets saying this. I don’t know whether to describe them as the mere “descendants of enemies of destruction”. But for all I have known, they only collect fares, load their “dirty-rusty-old-fashioned” buses and set off. They have no sense of responsibility; all they care for is to stop at any point they find a passenger without minding how close the next car is.

What adds more salt to injury is when they play “tsatsa” with the lives of innocent commuters. These “mad” drivers play the “death racing” game of overtaking each other. The drivers sit so stern at the steering wheel, ignoring the fact that they are conveying humans and not crops or commodities. You would see their conductors, popularly referred to as “mates” or “aplanke” show off their “multi-coloured” teeth, as long as “tin-cutters” and laugh as they look on while their masters (drivers) overtake other drivers, heedless of the great risk they are putting passengers to.

Entering the vehicle is the scariest thing; how you find a seat to perch on becomes your own struggle. Though it’s breathtaking, I personally keep it close because I’m a young energetic man who can sit easily. Shockingly, they don’t spare the aged people of this wickedness. The old people would be seen hitting themselves against the seats and people in the vehicle would be struggling to clutch their seats.

Sometimes, the drivers hit hard into pot-holes and skip sharp rumps without mercy. When passengers begin to complain and lament, they pay no heed. Instead, the drivers sit behind the steering wheel unconcerned with their big heads as “dummies”. When the screaming is getting out of hand, they reply with insults and threats.
The situation is getting out of hand and if authorities fail to act, the government would not cease losing human resources and wasting gargantuan amounts on accident victims. Meanwhile, a statement from the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) has proven that statistically, four people die every day as a result of road accidents. Estimates also show that Ghana loses over 230 million dollars yearly due to road accidents, with more than 1,600 deaths. This colossal loss amounts to about 1.7% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Furthermore, information gathered by the same Commission has revealed that in 2010, out of all persons affected by road traffic accidents, occupants of vehicles came first on the list. This is a clear indication that most accidents are occurring as a result of negligence and careless driving. The statistics are as follows: Fatalities of pedestrians – 43%, Occupants of vehicles – 53%, and Children below 16 years constitute 23% of the victims of these needless fatalities. Where is our future as a nation if our future hopes are being mauled in road accidents?! The report concluded that 60% of the total road accidents were caused by excessive speeding by greedy and mindless ‘trotro’ drivers.

I am hereby calling on the Ministry responsible for Roads and Transport, the National Road Safety Commission, the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit of the Police Service, the Ghana Armed Forces, the Ghana National Association of Garages, Ghana Private Road Transporters Union(GPRTU), registered motor vehicle and manufacturing companies, private road transporters, the National Insurance Commission, registered driver training schools, and all and sundry to deploy every effort to counteract this diabolic canker eating into the national fabric. We must not and should not aid and abet this needless road carnage.

Aluta continua………………………………………………….
Felix Acquaye,
Korle-Gonno, Accra