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Opinions of Thursday, 20 February 2014

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Make bad drivers eat the highway code!

By George Sydney Abugri

It sounds absolute¬ly crazy but if I had my way, I would print hundreds of thousands of copies of the Ghana Highway Code, round up motorists in the city and compel them to eat up copies of the code for breakfast, lunch and supper.

A fat lot of good that would probably do, on second thought: Our National Road Safety Commission and the police have conducted periodic training and educa¬tion programmes for motorists but the pro¬grammes only seem to have made many reckless motorists even more determined than ever to slaughter all and sundry.

Road acci¬dents are killing more people here than AIDS, malaria and cardiovascular diseases put together. Going by the official statistics which appear to be very gross underestimates, an average of six people are killed in road accidents in Ghana everyday. On the country’s highways, casualties from a single accident could range between 20 and 50.

What is going on is plain madness: A couple of months ago, I saw three fatal motor accidents which all occurred within an area of less than fifteen metres square and a fourth only a quarter of a kilometre down the road.

In one of the accidents, a white saloon car had been lit¬erally split in two, with the front half crumpled into a small lump of metal. You do not want to think of what happened to front seat pas¬sengers. Close by was anoth¬er ugly metal contraption that had only hours before, been a sleek automobile. Not far from the scene of both accidents, a large crowd had gathered around a red Toyota pick-up and a white passenger bus. The bus had ran smack into the Toyota.

At a rather dangerous road intersection close to the southern end of the Accra Sports Stadium, two speed¬ing saloon cars had also met head¬-on, in one crashing, metallic kiss of a thunderous collision.

The other day too, I watched in stupefied fascination as two cabs, both of them zooming at break neck speed, came very frighteningly close to meeting in that dreaded, exploding, crunching metallic kiss of motor cars, which often leaves corpses and bits of glass, metal, rubber and blackened motor fuel on the roads every day.

This was at a road intersection at Tema Community Three. The offending cabbie who should have given right of way, struggled desperately to keep his cab on the road after veering to one side to avoid the collision. Newspaper vendors, street hawkers and commuters waiting to board buses stared at him as he zoomed off again, a crazed demon determined to add to the frightening statistics.

Amid all that, the National Road Safety Commission has tried to reach out to the public with road accident prevention messages through public seminars and talks, the screening of feature films on road safety and various programmes of collaboration with drivers unions, road-side communities and public institutions and organizations. Road safety devices are being installed along some road crash-endemic routes.

Everyone with a genuine concern about this very grave national problem must chip in his/her bit! {The author is Editor-in-Chief of the General Telegraph} Website: www.sydneyabugri.com/Web Email: editing@sydneyabugri.com