The carnage on our roads


Last Friday the 22nd March 2019 the country woke up to the sad news in the early hours of yet another two separate gory road accidents in the Bono East and Central Regions. A Joy News reportage put the death toll from these two road accidents at about 90 just on a single day.

According to the Ghana Police Service, 55 people lost their lives in the first gory head-on collision between two passenger buses on the Kintampo-Techiman road with another fifty-three others sustaining various degrees of serious injuries. Preliminary investigations revealed that both the two buses had a total of 108 passengers on board of which 35 of the deceased were burnt beyond recognition.

The other fatal accident also involved two big passenger buses and occurred at Ekumfi Abor on the Winneba-Cape Coast Highway in the Ekumfi District of the Central Region. According to Myjoyonline more than 30 people were initially presumed to have lost their lives.

May we request the bereaved families to accept our deepest condolences and also the souls of the departed to rest in perfect peace with the Almighty God till we all meet again.

Not only should these two accidents wake up our national conscience about the rising carnage of road accidents on our roads in Ghana, but the high number of the dead and injured people involved should also reignite a serious conversation about the consequences of road accidents on our roads.

This should consequently lead to massive stakeholder efforts to seriously reverse the rising trend of road accidents in Ghana. This call should be is given serious credence by the fact that road accidents now account for the fifth leading cause of deaths among adolescent adults in Ghana and the majority of these deaths are all avoidable.

It is indeed sad to note that road fatalities have increased from 2,084 to 2,341 since 2014 to date, according to the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate. This Directorate reports an average of 2,059 deaths by road accidents since 2011 and with an average of 7 deaths and 34 people sustaining serious injuries daily.

The rising trend of road accidents and loss of lives and properties is indeed frightening in Ghana. MTTD statistics show that January and February this year alone accounted for the loss of Four Hundred and Eleven (411) lives through road accidents.

In terms of forgone Gross Domestic Product, or welfare in a narrow sense, estimates show that Ghana loses over 230 million dollars yearly to road accidents, equivalent to 1.7% of the country’s annual Gross Domestic Product.

Apart from the economic costs to the country traffic accidents have in most cases always caused physical, financial and mental effects on the people involved.

Drivers and passengers have also suffered injuries ranging from minor to serious cuts and bruises to broken limbs, whiplash, back and spinal injuries, paralysis and even death.

Various causes have been attributed to road accidents in Ghana and these include:

* Poor driving skills

* Distracted Driving such as using mobile phones whilst driving

* Bad roads and broken down vehicles on the road

* Indiscipline and non-observance of traffic regulations

* Over-loading of vehicles, said to cause 50% of truck road accidents

* Excessive speeding, which is estimated to account for 60% of all car crashes in the country

* drunk driving, etc.

Governments, regulatory bodies and other stakeholders have over the years raised concerns over the upsurge of carnage on Ghana’ s roads and have also called for major interventions to avert the huge number of deaths and injuries recorded in accidents.

The country has consequently set up the National Road Safety Commission to collaborate with other agencies such as the:

• Motor Transport and Traffic Unit

• Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority

• Building and Road Research Institute

• Ghana Highways Authority

• Department of Feeder Roads

• Department of Urban Roads

• Etc to promote and coordinate Road Safety activities in Ghana.

The government under President Nana Akufo-Addo, for instance, in 2018 set up by February a committee to probe the cause of road accidents in Ghana and make recommendations following a streak of deadly crashes.

The president subsequently allocated a budgetary support of GHS6.50 million “to scale up public education/sensitisation and training”. The president has once again expressed his concern about the carnage on our roads and tasked the Ministers of Interior, Transport and Roads and Highways to come up with a working solution to address the menace of road after the recent tragic road accident.

By all indications more needs to be done on the back of the fact that the carnage continues unabated.

The recent road accident and the loss of 90 lives be act as a serious call on all stakeholders to marshal all efforts to stop the carnage.

On this note I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families who have lost their loved ones in the recent two accidents.

Columnist: Kojo Appiah-Kubi, PhD