Friday, 31. March 2006

NEWS: on road accidents in Ghana

Ghanaian Chronicle (23.03.06): "This is a serious national crisis because [of] road traffic accidents"
kwame - 2006-03-31 00:07

Ghana: Mercedes Benz 207, Ford Express And Road Accidents in Ghana

OPINION
Appiah Kusi Adomako

There is a saying that when one aeroplane falls down with even only two passengers loosing their lives, the whole world would be informed about it. Let even multiple road accidents gut a nation such that more than two hundred people loose their lives, and say a domestic flight crashing after taking off; the news of the plane crash would over shadow that of the former.

While road accidents keep on taking a heavy toll on human lives, we spend our precious time debating about ROPAB or ROPAL - and bird flu is some few kilometres away from our borders. If the same energies spent debating ROPAB had been channeled into a road safety campaign in the country, our roads would be as safe as heaven.

Last week Friday in the Central region, seventeen people were killed on the spot and ten others received various degrees of injury when a 207-passenger bus and a Ford City Express bus were involved in an accident at Gomoa Assin on the Mankessim-Apam road. This accident has awakened the questioning minds of many Ghanaians about the American Ford and 207 Mercedes mini buses on our roads. Early last year, an honourable Member of Parliament (MP) made a statement on the floor of Parliament about the need for 207 buses to be banned from long distance journeys. Available statistics from the Motor Transport and Traffic Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police Service show that two thirds of accidents that occur on the Kumasi-Obuasi road involve 207 mini vans. In the late 90's the PNDC banned Urvan cars from plying the Kumasi-Accra road. The motivation for this ban was simple because most of the accidents that occurred on the roads involved Urvan cars. This helped to restore sanity on the road s. Less than ten years after the ban, then surfaced American Ford Express cars, which also has become another problem on our roads.

This is a serious national crisis because road traffic accidents are becoming very common and are robbing the nation of its valuable human resources. Some of the socio-economic impacts include disability and therefore a high dependency burden, and for some victims the gravity of their disability could render them jobless. With men representing 67% of national casualty, it has serious implications. The casualty is made up of those killed and injured. The implication of this is an increasing number of widows and female-headed households. The implications for children are the inability to complete their education or acquire skills for life, making them school dropouts, destitute and social delinquents. In addition, long periods of hospitalization worsen the plight of the poor. In situations where they are unable to pay for bills, they are detained; an experience, which can affect them socially, psychologically and mentally.

Economic impacts of road accidents cannot be glossed over. It is determined that road accidents cost developing countries including Ghana between 1-2% of the GDP. Current estimates show that Ghana loses about US$300m every year through road accidents. The cost does not include the associated pain, grief and suffering.

Costs for road traffic accidents include direct costs, namely medical care, property damage and insurance administration, and indirect costs include property damage, delays on the roadway, fuel consumption as a result of road accidents and resultant traffic jams, loss of earnings, lost household productivity and environmental costs.

The statistics on road accidents in the country are very ugly. According to Supt. Tandoh, from January 1, 1992, to December 31, 2001 (a period of ten years), a total of 104, 420 accident cases were recorded, giving an annual average of 10, 442 cases. About 145, 331 vehicles were involved in these accidents, 10,106 people died and 80,022 persons were injured.

Road accidents are common in this country to the extent that in 1995, Ghana ranked 2nd to Mexico in terms of road fatalities worldwide. In 1997, it ranked 2nd to Nigeria in West Africa and has remained at this position to date. Ghana has the second fatality rate in West Africa as far as road accidents are concerned and compared to Europe, the first. Other statistics show that over 10,000 vehicles are involved in accidents; over 10,000 people get injured through accidents; at least 6 people are killed in road accidents daily; 25% are below 16 years and another 25% are aged 25-35; speed is a contributory factor in 60% of the cases; 70% of the accidents occur on straight and flat roads; 70% of accident victims are males; 18% of the accidents occur between 6 and 8pm; Saturday is the most accident prone day; April is the most accident-prone month.

Men constitute 67% of the national casualty rate while women constitute 23% per cent of the national casualty. The continental fatality rate is between 40 and 45%, which means that Ghana's pedestrian fatality is the same as that of the controversial average. Ghana experiences 72 deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles.

On the way forward, we need to establish a strong regime of discipline on our roads. First, we need to ensure that only roadworthy vehicles are on our roads. This will reduce the probability of an accident occurring as a result of technical failure. Most of the cars that display roadworthy certificates are simply not fit-for-purpose and should be in the scrap yard. I wonder if the government can find the funds and compensate owners of all the dangerous metals on our roads that pass for commercial vehicles so that they withdraw them voluntarily. I have mentioned the issue of badly worn tyres and other dangerous tyre products, especially cheap imports. Why on earth would we import tyres that have been discarded by users in another countries, all in the name of home-used products? We need a strong system of regulation at our ports to ensure that just like the taxes on over-aged cars, importation of used tyres and other categories of used car parts attract taxes that would discourage cheap and dangerous imports by unscrupulous businessmen.

Driver training, especially for commercial drivers, is also very essential. However safe a car is to drive, it would be equally dangerous if the driver were not well-trained. Then of course, maintaining the roads. The Ghana Highways Authority needs to rise to its responsibilities.

This will save lives, for procrastination is still the thief of time. Time and tide waits for no man. Every life is essential. The time to act to save our people from these avoidable deaths is now.

Appiah Kusi Adomako writes from the Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, Kumasi

Tante Bugil - 2016-08-03 10:12

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