NEWS COMMENTARY ON RECENT HAPPENINGS ON GHANA’S ROADS AND THE NEED FOR CAUTION AND RESPONSIBILITY
Recent happenings on Ghana’s roads, particularly within the last few months or so, give many well-meaning Ghanaians a cause for worry, anxiety and frustration. Many believe that the time is more than ripe for Government, road users and all citizens in general to begin to exercise the necessary caution and responsibility to stem the tide of road traffic accidents in Ghana. For a long time now, road traffic accidents have become one of the leading causes of deaths in Ghana. Within the last two months alone, disturbing reports of road traffic accidents and related deaths have been recorded in many places across the country including Bonsaso, Aboadze-Takoradi, Gomoa Mpota, Nsawam-Ofankor, Tetteh-Quarshie-Adenta, Michel Camp-Afienya and Mataheko. The multiple accidents and deaths that have occurred on the Madina-Adenta highway since the beginning of the year eventually led to angry protests by residents when the latest victim, a first year SHS student of West African Senior High School, was knocked down by a speeding vehicle. Blocking the road and burning tyres to show their anger and frustration, residents asserted that when street lights and uncompleted footbridges along the road are fixed it will help resolve the road carnage that they are currently experiencing. Government responded by issuing a statement to the effect that work will start on the bridges within a week while police will be deployed to check speeding and help pedestrians to cross the road.
Latest reports indicate that the street lights along the road have been fixed, police men and women have been stationed to control traffic while six contractors engaged to work on the bridges have already visited the site in readiness to begin work on them. Why it took so long for Government to resume work on these bridges is anybody’s guess but it is better late than never. While Ghanaians must not be expected to jubilate over the latest developments, they must remain vigilant to ensure that the work is fully completed. While awaiting the recommencement of work on this and other equally important roads across the country, politicians and party communicators from both sides of the political divide who are trying to make political capital out of the Madina-Adentan road situation in pursuit of propaganda and to score cheap political points must desist from this and “repent for their sins”. They should be ashamed for failing Ghana and the people miserably.
What Ghana needs now are solutions, not propaganda and noise. Meanwhile, reports indicate that some motorists plying the Tema-Accra motorway are refusing to pay tolls in protest against the potholes and poor nature of the motorway. As we caution and encourage them to change their minds towards the payment of the tolls, Government should show urgency and high level of commitment in fixing and maintaining that important highway. The earlier this problem is addressed, the better it would be for sanity to prevail on the motorway and its tollbooths. The Ministry of Roads and Highways has its work cut out and it should be up and doing. It is a truism that the current carnage on Ghana’s roads cannot be stopped by one person or one institution. It is therefore essential for all Ghanaians to work with Government to minimize the present intolerable spate of accidents on our roads. The Motor Traffic and Transport Department of the Ghana Police Service should be equipped to enforce road traffic regulations. Drivers should exercise more responsibility and caution in driving on the roads while pedestrians and the travelling public should be circumspect when crossing, working and walking along the roads. A greater responsibility lies on the central Government to ensure that uncompleted and abandoned road projects across the country are given the needed attention. What the recent unfortunate Madina-Adentan road incident has taught us is that citizens are not asking for too much from Governments but will not sit unconcerned when innocent lives are lost due to the failure of the Ministry of Roads and Highways and allied agencies to provide the necessary amenities such as good roads, road furniture and footbridges. The lives that have been lost on our roads cannot be brought back. However it is our prayer that their memories will help all of us to resolve from today to do the right things on the roads to save lives. All hands must be on deck as we work together to make our roads safe for all.
BY: FR. EMMANUEL ABBEY-QUAYE, A CATHOLIC PRIEST FROM CAPE COAST AND STUDENT AT DUQUESNE UNIVERSITY, IN PITTSBURGH USA.