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Opinions of Wednesday, 7 September 2005

Columnist: Agyepong, Benjamin Opoku

The Cause Of Road Accidents Is - Part 2

In a recent article, I discussed the perils of reckless driving on our highways especially the Kumasi-Accra highway. Now I turn to inner City accidents and their causes. Inextricably linked with this problem are our policy makers and road engineers whilst motorists cannot escape blame/

If anybody travels within the Accra metropolis a constant sight on the roads are speed ramps, sometimes, as high as one-two feet. Speed ramps are needlessly on most of the road, even when the area and location has no need for it. One often sees the top of these ramps scratchy white, indicating that the bases of cars constantly scratch the ramps, as they climb them, causing untold damage to mufflers or the exhaust pipes of vehicles.

The question that I often asked myself whilst in Ghana was whether we have engineers at the road and highways department in Ghana, and if we do, then one wonders the sort of training they have and where they were trained. Why do I say this, in Ghana, when speed ramps are constructed, a speed ramp of one foot high must of necessity be at least six feet wide to prevent the bottom of cars scratching the top. Otherwise, it must be less than six inches high to prevent scratching. That aside, the sign warning drivers of the ramp is often placed on the ramp or sometimes two-three feet before the ramp so if you are not familiar with the area, you are most likely to hit the ramp before realizing it.

I had a bitter experience which almost resulted in an accident on the Dome-Madina Atomic road, thanks to my bravely and experience. Anybody who plies that road knows what I am talking about, there is a good stretch of road without pothole between Dome and Hatzo, up to the middle of Hatzo township where speed ramps are elected but as usual, the sign indicating a ramp ahead is placed rather on the ramp, so whiles going to drop of my nephew at the Tema motorway for him to board a vehicle to Ada where he lives and work, I was doing about 40 m.p.h at about 5 O?clock a.m. all of a sudden, I came face-to face with the first set of ramp without warning. I slammed the brakes, released it and hit the ramp. The bump was so severe that the engine of my car went off, whiles I held strongly to the steering wheel. That caused a little damage to my car.

The question is, why do those who construct these ramps have to assume that everybody would magically know the presence of a speed ramp even if he/she does not live in the area. Don?t they know that strangers will drive on the roads as well? And if they do, then why do they do such a poor job. Common sense tells me that one does not need to be a rocket scientist to know that a road sign warning drivers of a road hazard must be placed at a minimum of 40-50 meters before the hazard but not adjacent to the hazard for which it warns motorists. Do we need foreign donation to correct this anomaly? No. Do we need foreign experts to do this? No. We need Ghanaians with common sense and the desire to save lives.

A second problem, which everyone seems to be overlooking, is the construction of flowerbeds from houses on roadside to as far as the gutters on the adjoining roads, leaving pedestrians with no pavement and forcing them to walk on the roads. This hinders the smooth flow of traffic and cause unnecessary accidents on the inner city roads. A simple legislation requiring house owners to construct pavements instead of flower beds between their walls and the adjacent roads is all that is needed solve this problem. That aside, in the new suburbs, house owners must be responsible for constructing the pavement and gutter in front of their houses to relieve the government of part of the burden of providing drainage facilities in the suburbs and concentrate on the major drainage facilities.



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