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Opinions of Sunday, 27 April 2014

Columnist: Ali, Joseph Oswald

Unleashing Terror on Roads with Illegal Speed Ramps

Unleashing Terror on Roads with Illegal Speed Ramps -U/W

The already precarious and deteriorating state of roads in the Upper West region is no pity and worry to residents, that they have taken an irrevocable oath to make them more deplorable. The subculture of constructing speed bumps on any part of a road as desired by residents of that area is common place in Ghana. The actions of individuals and communities and the inaction of state institution have led us to this dark point, where we make ramps at will. These ramps or bumps ran through the length and breadth of the region like veins on a muscular man. About ninety percent (90%) of these speed ramps are unauthorized made of several crude and substandard materials. They made with wood, sticks and several truck loads of soil. The epicenter of this phenomenon is apparent along the Wa to Tumu road especially the feeder portions of the road. Several tangential reasons are adduced in justification of this blatant disregard for the law. To some, speeding by motorists on roads in these affected areas portends danger to children who cross roads and their livestock as well. This claim is the least justifiable, both in line with legality and standard practice. Livestock isn’t to be let loose in our communities; just as the roads are neither constructed as playgrounds for children as well. This illegal practice by individuals and communities is sometimes sanctioned by traditional authority (chiefs) and local representatives (assembly members). This posture by representatives of the people lives nothing but indelible marks of unconcerned nonchalance. If care isn’t taken some communities are entrenching themselves as autonomous states by their actions. It is mind boggling that some traders put up these speed ramps in order to forcefully ensure passersby slow down to see their products and possibly stop and buy them. These illegal ‘billboards’ are often constructed with more material so as to make them harder and higher than the various illegal ramps constructed. Some of these spots have become havens for criminals who carry out robberies at night and other odd periods. One more thing, it strains credulity, to hazard the thought that those entrusted to ensure the safety of residents, maintenance of public property and adherence to the laws of our land are awake to these happenings. It isn’t any secret how these illegal speed ramps strike terror through accidents and the breakdown of peoples vehicles. In the event of an accident occurring at locations of these ramps, victims are met with the brute violence by the residents. This utter disregard for the law is growing every split second hence, remedial measures must be taken. Truth be told, some communities and individuals who construct these speed bumps are unaware it is an affront to the laws of our land. The ignorance of the law is no excuse but still on his tangent, the need to educate our person on such basic issues which portends danger to our society. Some communities opine that roads which pass through them become their bona fide property and hence, should be used to rule, as instituted by the community. The home truth is that, officialdom is the least perturbed by this since they are cushioned by the caliber of vehicles provided them by the state. The political will to enforce the law barring this practice is at its all time nadir, since the district assembly elections are at hand. That said, fairness would elude me if reference isn’t made to some who have made statements in his regard. Foremost, the then Upper West regional minister Alhaji Sulemana was emphatic on eradicating this and issued several threats which have becoming nothing but teats on a boar hog. In contemporary times he leads a ministry, with direct control over roads yet next to nothing is being done about it. The thunderous warning by the current DCE of Jirapa, Hon. Vivian Kelly Kunko, with an end of February ultimatum to communities is a living testimony for all to see. The defiance and contempt her message has been received with is evident along the boundaries of the district. The speed ramps are clearly increasing in leaps and bounds. For instance from Vingving to Ul-Gozu there were less than five illegal seed ramps there in January this year. Isn’t it a shocker of the year that these speed ramps have multiplied to about twelve? Truth be told, drivers and riders must also take precautionary measures while riding or driving as the case maybe. The recklessness with which some motorists ply our roads throws people into frenzy and panic. In ensuring safety on our roads, the scales must be balanced. Pedestrians ought to be careful and also stick to the traffic regulations; motorists also have a bigger responsibility to perform. All in all, the state institutions so mandated to ensure the safety on our roads should get down from their ivory towers and expeditiously deal with this matter. The National Road Safety Commission ought to carry out a vigorous educational campaign in every nook and cranny of this region in order to alleviate the ignorance of those unaware and caution those carrying out such activities. The highway authority must also continually assess the various roads and construct the ramps, where necessary. It must also be mindful of the quality of those constructed since many lack the desired quality and some the sign post issuing warning signals are often absent. The police MTTD should be seen working against this canker yet, this can’t be said to be the case. Little is done in this regard maybe, because this wouldn’t be lucrative to officials who would engage in it. The various district assemblies have the all withal to rid our roads of these ramps. Since each district has a specified Saturday of every month assigned to clean-up exercises, one could be dedicated to having these obnoxious speed ramps deconstruction of these obnoxious speed ramps deconstructed. Let all who seek to see our region safer join this crusade. Joseph Oswald Ali +233 205827645