Road carnage which I have termed the “Known Murderer” has become an albatross around the necks of presidents, Prime Ministers, monarchs and decision makers across the globe.
Even though road accidents are bond to occur, leaders of developed countries have put in place measures and mechanisms which had help to reduce its occurrence and the fatalities associated with it.
But same cannot be said about developing countries like Ghana where road carnage a ‘known murderer’ cannot be arrested by the president and its appointees who have sworn an oath to do good to all manner of persons as well as to protect individual lives and properties.
Some studies have shown that road traffic injuries are a major cause of death and disability globally, with a disproportionate number occurring in developing countries (Banthia et al., 2006 in Gebru, 201). WHO in 2013 came to buttress the fact that road accident is one of the leading health problems along with diseases such as Diarrhea, Malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, especially in low- and middle-income countries, including Ghana.
We all, both the educated and uneducated alike know the basic causes of road carnage yet very little is been done by the state actors and their assignee’s to reduce if not to eliminate it.
Let me walk you through somehow interesting but horrendous data from the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) and Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service which forms the bases of my justification for the description of road carnage as a known murderer who cannot be arrested by the state.
It is heartbreaking to note that NRSC, the body mandated by the state to oversee the safety of our roads, has no data on road accidents between the periods of 2017 to second quarter of 2020 on their website (www.nrsc.gov.gh).
Although all efforts made to get the data for the first and second quarters of this year (2020) from the MTTD unit of the Ghana Police Service hit rock button, media reports on some major accidents indicates that things are not getting better.
For instance road carnage claimed 222 lives in January 2020 alone. This is according to provisional data on road accidents from the MTTD of the Ghana Police Service for the 16 regions.
I thought the public uproar and the media attention the two separate accidents on the Kintampo-Tamale and Winneba-Mankessim highways which claimed more than 80 lives in less than two weeks generated would have drum home government’s attention to put the necessary to arrest this known murderer once and for all but no all the noise have fell on death ears as this known murder is left loss causing more havoc to lives and properties.
According to provisional data “officially” compiled by the MTTD unit of the Ghana Police Service revealed an average of seven deaths daily for the first month of 2020, from accidents mainly attributed to reckless driving.
The deaths represent a 10% increase compared to the same period last year, which recorded 201 deaths.
There has also been a rise in crashes as reflected in the total reported accident cases of 1,191 in January 2020, as against 1,036 in January 2019.
Records at the MTTD shows road crashes claimed 2,284 lives in 2019 alone. This marked a significant increase from 2018 where 2,020 persons died on Ghana’s roads.
The following are the breakdown of fatalities involving commercial vehicles were 925 deaths with 7,621 injuries. While crashes involving private cars led to the deaths of 627 people and 3,302 injuries.
Pedestrian knockdowns totaled 2,983 with 740 of the incidents resulting in deaths. There were also 4,643 motor or cycle crashes which take into account bicycles, hand carts, tricycles and motorcycles. The crashes saw 723 deaths and 3,474 injuries. In all, there were 13,877 crashes recorded which involved 22,789 vehicles.
The regional breakdown of crashes saw the Greater Accra with 5,483; Ashanti with 3,213; Eastern with 1,212; Western with 1,143; Central with 902, Brong Ahafo with 652, Volta with 593, Northern with 270, Upper East with 254, and Upper West with 155.
The NRSC has noted that Ghana loses over $230 million annually due to road crashes. Within the last 28 years, over 46,000 Ghanaians have been killed in road accidents nationwide.
As statistics in Ghana indicate, road accidents affect many sectors of society: individuals, families, communities and countries. Victims of fatal road accidents die on the scene or in hospital. Survivors also suffer from different types of injuries and disabilities, which can affect their quality of life. As these victims suffer, their families and communities will suffer too; they sometimes carry the burden of caring for the victims. WHO notes that road traffic accidents have been ranked the 9th leading cause of mortality, morbidity, diseases burden, in terms of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) lost globally (WHO, 2013).
It is so alarming that some studies have projected that by 2020 road traffic accidents could become the third major killer and leading cause of death and disabilities after human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) and Tuberculosis (TB) (WHO, 2013).
Road accident statistics between 1991-2016
Yearly deaths (*); 1991 -*920, 1992 -*914, 1993 -*901, 1994 -*824, 1995 -*1,026, 1996 -*1,049, 1997 -*1,015, 1998 -*1,419, 1999 -*1,237, 2000 -*1,437, 2001-*1,660, 2002 -*1,665, 2003 -*1,716, 2004 -*2,186, 2005 -*1,779, 2006 -*1,856, 2007 -*2,043, 2008 -*1,938, 2009 -*2,237, 2010 -*1,986, 2011 -*2,199, 2012 -*2,240, 2013 -*1,898, 2014 -*1,836, 2015 -*1,802 and in 2016 Ghana recorded *2,084 deaths. Source: MTTD
The above statistics clearly shows that little or nothing is been done to arrest the situation. Simple factors that causes carnage such as narrow roads, low quality surfaces, undefined crossing sites, dangerous curves/intersections; poor visibility, lack of sidewalks; lack of proper signs, signals, markings, intersection layout control, and unauthorized speed ramps etc. have been left unattended to.
A drive through the Mallam Junction – Winneba-Mankessim-Tarkoradi highway at night is as scary and dangerous like walking through the streets of hell to see the devil himself. Most part of highway across the country is covered with total darkness coupled with deep potholes thus putting drivers and passengers’ lives at the teeth of death.
The coldness on the part of duty bearers (government) to address these basic fundamentals (fixing streetlights to improve visibility at night, widening of road, broadening the shoulders of the road, sealing of potholes etc.) in road safety management is ample evidence that the state has failed to arrest this known murderer.
What does it take to: fix streetlight along the major highways? Create bigger space between on-coming and out-going vehicles? Address the yawning trenches on the shoulders of the road? Look at the financial waste in the system if our governments are willing to arrest this known murderer (road carnage) it would have put measures in place to nipped it in the bud.
Has the state actors thought for once what over $230 million can do for the illing Ghanaian economy annually? This amount of money accounts for just lost of properties due to road crashes. I don’t think so if not steps would have been taken to arrest this known murderer.
We live in a country where state actors do not value human lives. Political parties which form government always think of themselves, their immediate family and party cronies. Anything or policies that will help improve the lives of the ordinary becomes a second thought.
Mr. President please and please again you and your ministers and other appointees have sworn an oath to do good to all manner of persons as well as to protect individual lives and properties. So let your yes be yes.
I have seen the effort, resources and commitment been made in fight against the novel coronavirus which has killed less than 200 people in a spite of four months. If same effort, resources and commitment can be channel into addressing road accidents which claimed 222 lives in January alone, we would have arrested this known murderer.
The country is not only losing its human capital to accident-related deaths, but productive lives are being rendered disabled due to serious injuries. As many as 1,396 injuries were registered in January 2019, surpassing the previous year’s 862 by 60%.
Article and pictures by: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH