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Opinions of Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Columnist: Boamah, Solomon

Human Rights Abuse On Ghana Roads: Danger In Ignorance

By: Solomon Boamah, B.A PoL Sc,. B.S. Arch. M.S. U.R.P.

It is tragic that in Ghana, all drivers are prejudged as over speed drivers, as a result whether or not a driver drives fast or slow, he or she is subject to pass over speed ramps or rumble strips. Passing over speed ramps or rumble strips is a punishment, been caught by police speed radar for over speeding also means an imminent punishment, but we are yet to find any driver caught by police radar for slow driving. The analysis we are trying to make here is that if over speeding drivers are punished when caught why should slow drivers get punished too by subjecting them to pass over speed ramps and rumble strips? The over speeding driver caught by police speed radar is subject to a fine which most of the time results to financial loss. Passing over speed ramps or rumble strips by any vehicle also causes financial loss to the owner, because any time a vehicle passes over speed ramps or rumble strips, the following parts of that vehicle gets damaged slowly; these parts include: Shock absorbers, springs, exhaust pipes, mufflers, tyre rod ends, tyres, brake pads, motor mounts and other vehicle parts.

The paradigm of these speed ramps and rumble strips is that, continuous passing over them weakens tyre rod ends and throw the vehicle out of balance. It is expensive financially to repair or replace tyre rod ends, not only that, a vehicle which is out of balance could throw it out of control and cause an imminent accident.

The destruction of shock absorbers causes excessive shaking of the vehicle and its occupants. Remember, that this also means damage to the spinal cord and lower back to humans. The damage to exhaust system could cause seepage of carbon monoxide into the vehicle. When carbon monoxide, the unseen killer, enters into the vehicle, it could slowly drowse the occupants. We would leave it to you to guess what could happen to a driver who is drowsy and moving about fifty (50) kilometers per hour, a legal speed limit when approaching a village or a township.

Smooth and continuous movement of any vehicle slows the wear and tear of vehicle tyres and breaks and less consumption of gas or petrol. However, when a vehicle has to move intermittently the kinetic energy that it produces wears off the brakes and the tyres, and also causes over consumption of gas or petrol. The most unfortunate things about speed ramps and rumble strips are that, apart from the fact that people are made to lose so much money for owing vehicles, the economy of the nation also comes under serious attack due to lack of knowledge about these road destroyers. Remember none of these vehicle parts mentioned above is manufactured in Ghana, they are all imported items mostly paid for by the nation’s hard earned foreign currency in return for Ghana Cedi by importers, but these parts don’t last because of constant attack on all vehicles anytime they move.

It is bothersome for a vehicle owner or a passenger to know that there could never be a time in which you may move from one place to the other without passing over speed ramps or rumble strips. We may have thought that with numerous pot holes on most of our roads, at least the few good roads that have been paved nicely could afford drivers and passengers alike a smooth driving experience, but because of lack of knowledge this expectation has been defeated. Governments of other countries penalized only over speeding and reckless drivers and make so much money to help rebuild their towns and cities. Unfortunately, ours is once again the opposite of that. If we are patriotic citizens, we would research to come out with a better way of policing our roads, after all most of us are using modern technology of the day; flat screen TV, touch screen cell phones with camera, TV and radio, 4 x 4 Mercedes and Nissan trucks and other best of modern cars, as well as putting up modern houses. So how come we are still using antiquated systems to police our roads?

In fact we are behaving just like the “Einstein’s Monster” in which Einstein vigorously researched to produce a monster and the monster eventually turned around and attacked him. How could we with all our academic achievements, defend ourselves when we subject ambulances carrying accident victims and sick people to the hospitals to pass over speed ramps and rumble strips with a speed By: Solomon Boamah, B.A PoL Sc,. B.S. Arch. M.S. U.R.P. ©2007 Page 3 of 4 of over forty (40) kilometers per hour and expect the victim to survive before reaching the hospital? Have we even thought of fire outbreaks? In case of fire outbreak, how do we expect the gigantic fire truck filled with several gallons of liquid substance to reach its destination on time even with a speed limit of about forty (40) to fifty (50) kilometers per hour without any impediment? What about the police? Aren’t we making it so difficult and dangerous for the law enforcement agencies persuing armed robbers, to be able to go over these speed ramps and rumble strips safely without losing control of their vehicles? Passengers are complaining as well as drivers on the permanent conditions of our roads, particularly on the highways. We have subjected pregnant women to such a terrible condition whenever they travel. We have both young and old suffering from lower back pains without knowing the causes, and most of the time attribute it to the devil. Continuous travel over speed ramps and rumble strips by males could even cause sexual dysfunction, just find out.

When the spinal cord is subjected to constant “see-saw” conditions, stroke becomes imminent. It is so pathetic that at least 15 million well educated Ghanaians allow such conditions to prevail in our society. Travel from Accra to the Cape Coast University, from Accra to Nsawam, from Accra to Koforidua and many more places and ask yourself if there is any rational in the design of our highways; now travel through the city of Accra and many other cities and we are sure you may become more conscious of what we are fighting for.

The scriptures have vividly stated that “But for lack of knowledge the people perish” Yes! Slowly, but surely, we are perishing indeed and need a savior. We hope you realize that we don’t even have speed limit signs on most of our roads; we are now substituting speed ramps and rumble strips for a speed limit signs. We are the only nation that loses money to police our roads; we are the only nation that has designed our roads to take the lives of our people, that is why we even exit from our highways at ninety (90) degree angles. We are the By: Solomon Boamah, B.A PoL Sc,. B.S. Arch. M.S. U.R.P. ©2007 Page 4 of 4 only nation that police our highways at vantage points, so on and so forth, but why? What is education for?

Many of our citizens have been convicted for causing financial loss to the state, but remember that the abnormal importation of automobile parts by auto parts companies with the Government Foreign Money because of speed ramps and rumble strips is also seriously causing financial loss to the state. Find out from Auto Mechanics both private and public and they will tell you that shock absorbers, tyre rod ends, exhaust systems, springs, brake pads and tyres are the most common problems found on automobiles.

Also find out from orthopedic doctors the number of lower back pain cases that are recorded in the hospitals, disregard those who are doing traditional treatment and you would be shocked. But up till now millions in this country do not know the causes of this rampant painful disease. If Ghanaians know the cause, they would be agitating for the removal of speed rumps and rumble strips across board as quickly as possible in order to save themselves from this dreaded disease.. Before we conclude we would like to point it out to our road designers and road safety engineers, that they should try two (2) nights to sleep at those villages along highways and they would experience the terrible noise by trucks, particularly the empty ones and they would realize that their design is unconscionable and inhumane. The authorities should research and they would find that, the inhabitants along the highways have a shorter life span because of excessive noise experienced every night for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately they have no choice; they are at the mercy of our highly educated engineers, God save Ghana.

We the patriotic Ghanaians have no choice but to fight against inhumanity and academic dishonesty in the name of saving lives. God bless “those who have” ears to hear, and those who have eyes to see. Solomon Boamah