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Opinions of Thursday, 7 April 2016

Columnist: Andrew Kaminta

Indiscipline on Our Roads: Our security chiefs must act now

It appears indiscipline on our roads is getting out of hand. Many people have complained and a lot has been written about this canker.

I am, therefore, not going to bore readers with all the different causes and the remedies suggested. I am going to discuss the contribution of the members of the security services towards the increasing indiscipline on our roads.

For all of my 23 years in the military, I lived either on Switchback Road or within Burma Camp. Therefore, I did not get to experience the dreaded traffic most folks complained about incessantly.

For the past one year, however, I have been commuting between Madina Estates and Trade Fair/ La. There are two routes I normally use. When I have to drop my son at Roman Ridge, I would usually pass in front of UPSA, turn on the Trinity Theological College road and then do a right turn at the traffic light through Okponglo to the Legon Stadium traffic light to join the traffic flow to the Tetteh Quarshie interchange.

When I have to go directly to La, I usually go on the Boundary Road to East Legon Police Station and through the tunnel to join the Spintex Road.
Now, apart from the fact that I now have to wake up much earlier than before, I always have to deal with unbearable traffic on these two roads. And this is where the most unimaginable breaches of the road traffic regulations occur.

UPSA-Trinity College-Okponglo road

While we, the law-abiding citizens, endure the snail-pace-moving traffic, all manner of other drivers take over the shoulders of the road to our right and speed with careless abandon. Worse still, others take over the left half of the road, put on their hazard lights and literally force out oncoming traffic which are supposed to have the right of way.

Boundary Road

The traffic on this road begins between Starbite Pub and Grill and the East Legon Police Station. Until recently, when this stretch of road had not been demarcated into three lanes, because of the volume of traffic towards the tunnel, motorists were already forming two unauthorised lanes, leaving only a narrow width of road for the East Legon / Adjiriganor-bound traffic. And still there are those who think that they are too big or too important to join the traffic like everyone else and would rather take over and force out oncoming traffic. The offenders include almost all drivers of Toyota Land Cruisers, taxis and other daring compatriots.

Airport-El-Wak road

This is another road that witnesses extreme madness. And here, the major culprits are the uniformed security officers such as soldiers, police officers, immigration officers, customs officers, fire service and prisons officers. Even when they are in their private cars, they do not join the traffic and would rather take over the left side of the road at top speed, forcing out other motorists who have the right of way.

My concern

I can understand it if security officers are on official duty, are in official vehicles and are being slowed down by traffic. But I fail to understand why any security officer in his private car (going to his office like everyone else) should feel too important to follow traffic regulations.
It hurts me when I see all ranks of security personnel driving on the wrong side of the road just because they are in uniform. All these security agencies are supposed to exhibit the highest level of discipline for their counterpart 'idle' civilians to emulate.

What I see on our roads is a serious dent on the image of all these institutions, especially the police and the military. As they wilfully break the traffic regulations, others daringly move out of traffic, put on their hazard lights and follow them. And before long, it becomes a long convoy of all manner of vehicles moving on the wrong side of the road.

Solution

I am entreating the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the other security chiefs to crack the whip because the behaviour of their officers and men on the road is bringing their institutions into disrepute. Civilians expect your men to be disciplined and law-abiding so that they can have the moral authority to discipline others.

Anytime I am stuck in traffic and I see a private soldier or a Lance Corporal put on his cap (to be recognised) and start driving on the shoulder of the road or facing oncoming traffic, my heart bleeds for this nation. Has discipline deserted our troops?
Over to you, security chiefs.