The devastation and emotional drain of road accidents can be encapsulated in a famous quote attributed to Nikki Rowe.
“There’s something about trauma to the mind, body, and soul. One day your normal and the next you’re different; you don’t know what changed but you know nothing’s the same and all of a sudden, you are learning to adapt yourself to the same environment with a whole new outlook. I guess you realize you’re not visible and every aching bone bleeds its sorrow through anguish in your movements. One day, it’ll get easier because I’m telling myself it will and that’s the difference between becoming a pioneer through this disaster when all thought I’d be a slave to pity”.
In 2017, it was reported that 2,076 people died from road traffic accidents; eight people less than the 2016 figure which was 2,084.
Imagine leaving your home healthy and lively, saying a lovely goodbye to your lively wife, kids,and family to embark on a journey then midway through the journey, you saw an oncoming car coming to collide with either your car or the public transport you’ve board due to the recklessness of one person who’s got no family to cater for or has got no one looking up to him for a responsibility? Hmm, the answer, my reader, definitely resides with you.
The National Road Safety Commission ( NRSC), a body which has been established by an act of Parliament is mandated to play a lead role in championing, promoting, and coordinating road safety activities in Ghana.
It is also expected to plan, develop and promote road safety and to promote policies related to road safety and the last but not least, to ensure compliance of same but over the years, this body that is clothed with power to help reduce road traffic accidents is largely becoming a pale shadow of itself in the sense that,they, in my opinion, have hijacked the duty of the Ghana Statistical Service by churning out figures of fatalities recorded in the year under review other than carrying out extensive public education using the mass media and doing community engagements in order to let the road users know all the challenges there are associated with road usage.
One very important factor we as a nation seem to be losing sight of is the fact that, a lot of human resources is most through these road traffic accidents. Some including, people within the creative arts industry, others from the academic and more others from the youthful population and holds the Country’s future.
Goods from a cut from far north and other parts of the country are lost to the ground if cars conveying those goods to Accra and any other major market are involved in a car accident, and that has a lot of socio-economic implications for our nation and food security.
According to the World Health Organisation, road traffic accidents affecting young and productive age are globally the second cause of death followed by HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. According to a UN report published in 2008, the annual costs of road traffic crashes in low and middle-income countries were estimated between 65 to100 billion dollars, which is far more than the total annual amount received in development aid. When the cost is expressed as a percentage of the Gross National Product in most African countries, the statistics are simply staggering. For instance, it ranges from 0.8 percent in Ethiopia, one percent in South Africa, 2.3 percent in Zambia and 2.7 percent in Botswana to almost five percent in Kenya. In 2011, the National Road Safety Commission reported that road accidents, caused Ghana 145 million dollars, representing one point four percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Considering the magnitude of the effects, there is the need for concerted, multi-sectoral effort to combat the menace of road traffic accidents. This calls for strict enforcement of road traffic regulations.
It is ironical that while murder is a crime punishable by death, drivers whose negligence and recklessness results in the death of thousands of people are most often unpunished.
The cause of road accidents has many facets and must be tackled using a multi-sectoral approach which means that the National Road Safety Commission, the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit of the Ghana Police Service, the Driver, and Vehicle Licensing Authority and all other stakeholders must employ feasible methods in solving the problem.
The issue of driver licensing and roadworthy vehicle certification must be taken seriously and at this stage, I must commend the authority for introducing a new system which allows only eligible persons to acquire licenses through less bureaucratic ways. The practice whereby people sit in the comfort of their bedrooms and offices and acquire driver’s license and roadworthy certificates without any physical examination is now a thing of the past, thanks to the new Policy.
Officers from the MTTD must let their conscience speak to them so that any road traffic offender is not let go without facing the law whereas Officers at the Port are expected to enforce the ban in second-hand tyres, which has been identified as a cause do not get imported into our country.
To Cop Kojo somewhere in Ho, anytime you let go an offender, remember you have failed to rescue the life of fellow humans from the hands of a reckless driver. And to the various stakeholders, do not merely mention the statistics of deaths recorded to the hearing of the public but let it your prick your minds that someone’s destiny depends on you.
To the families of those who have lost relatives through road traffic accidents, we sympathize with you, and we hope that government and other stakeholders will work tirelessly to reduce drastically, those that we lose annually through crashes.
By: Evans Aziamor-Mensah
The Writer is a level 300 student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism.