Carnage In The North

There can be only one reason – recklessness – for such carnage on a highway which is regarded as the best in the country. With minimal potholes, a few bends accidents should have been rare on the Kintampo to Tamale stretch of this important link between the north and the south.

Yet this road has claimed many lives between last year and now. The Motor Transport and Traffic Department of the Ghana Police Service and the Road Safety Commission should have worrying statistics on the subject.

We have learnt that Ghana is part of a group of countries with the highest number of road fatalities in the world – something we should not be proud of at all.

Close to 20 dead within minutes in the accident under review is a story which should prick our conscience as a people, especially those in-charge of ensuring road safety in the country. A preliminary report, inconclusive though, has it that one of the vehicles tried to do an overtaking in a bend but collided with an oncoming vehicle, leaving many dead. We are devastated, considering the pain the bereaved families are going through currently. Somebody’s recklessness, a driver, has led to avoidable fatalities.

The social cost of such avoidable accidents is enormous: the education of some kids could end or suffer major hiccups and threaten their future.

We must be serious about discipline on our roads so that we do not have to return to this subject almost incessantly. Accidents on our highways can be minimized tremendously when we all resolve to be responsible. After all, there are sufficient road signs to warn drivers of sharp bends, where speed should not exceed 50 km/hour and so on, yet these are largely ignored.

Last year a tomato truck from Burkina Faso and another collided, leaving behind a trail of blood and death, and now this. There have been many others yet no concrete solution has been found to obviate the bloodletting.

The Highway Patrol unit of the Ghana Police Service, the Road Safety Commission and Driver Vehicle and Licensing Authority, all exist to ensure safety on our roads and highways. Unless road users and motorists support the efforts of the foregone, accidents will remain features of our roads.

Someone observed that since most of the fatal accidents stem from head-on collisions occasioned by overtaking, governments must consider dualising our highway network across the country. It is unacceptable that major roads like the Kumasi to Accra or even Kumasi to Tamale stretches and beyond remain mono-carriage ways.

Since it would be impossible, it appears, to have commercial drivers avoid overtaking even in bends, such recourse can offer the solution to the carnage on our highways.

Our engineers can address the challenge of overtaking by making it impossible for such maneuvers to take place at bends or other dangerous spots on our highways through engineering innovations. Appropriate obstacles must be fixed at bends or dangerous spots so that drivers cannot overtake and endanger the lives of innocent passengers.

Have we also as a people thought about the fact that many commercial drivers plying our long distance routes are illiterates and therefore, unable to read road signs? This shortcoming notwithstanding, they are licensed to drive.