The recent increase in road carnage brings to mind its parallel occurrence in my community, Anyaah, a suburb of Accra and draws our attention to the obvious neglects which must be addressed if we are interested in preserving lives of the citizenry.
Anyaah is one of the known suburbs of the Anyaah- Sowutuom Constituency with Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs as the sitting Member of Parliament of the area. In the past years, it has developed from a rural to an urban town considering how fast people have inhabited the area and the development of infrastructure, with the latest being the construction of the high roads that stretches from Baahyard to Ablekuma and further to Pokoase. The highway since its construction has immensely serve the good of drivers, passengers, traders and pedestrians alike in easing navigation especially to the Eastern part of the country.
Even though the road is known for its ease in accessibility, it is not devoid of flaws. The road hitherto designed to aid human and vehicular mobility has now metamorphosed into a death trap. Why do I say death trap? In recent times there has been an increase in the incidence of accidents which occur on the stretch of road in reference. The notable area is a bus stop which the natives call “School Junction”, because just after the junction was a school, situated adjacently. Even though the name “school junction” has come to stay, the school is no more in sight.
At this area is a T-junction where vehicles from Ablekumah, Baahyard and Palas-Town crisscross to and fro their respective destinations. This particular part of the stretch has recorded an avoidable increase in accidents which the community attributes to either reckless driving, over speeding, faulty traffic lights, lack of street lights and in even some instances to the gods of the land that are not left out in the blame game. These accidents have led to tragic deaths of people and the destruction of properties. At a point in time, accident cases were recorded every week with at least three people losing their lives. And the begging question still remains, WHO IS TO BLAME?
I have had multiple reflections over this concern and though not an expert, I have come to a justifiable conclusion that: I am to blame, you (the reader of this piece) are to be blamed, drivers are to be blamed as well as the authorities entrusted with our welfare. I know you might be confused why I included myself and you in the blame game.
It is our responsibility as citizens, to check these drivers who exceed their speed limits when driving. But NO, we just look on while they put our lives at risk because you and I are in a hurry to get to our destinations much as the driver. We even go as far as jumping to their defense when they are at fault or break some road safety rules rather than querying them. Talk of the police, particularly the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) who are always on time to pick dead bodies and tow vehicles from accident scenes, appearing in times when they are less needed. I believe that these people (MTTD) are responsible for the security of the citizens and having been entrusted with their welfare on the roads hence much is expected of them.
However, the police neglect their security duties and focus more on how much their pockets could take on behalf of their bellies. I say this without provocation or disrespect to the police service. I have observed the traffic lights on the stretch as well as some others, are designed to work with solar energy but there are times when these traffic lights mal-function, making it difficult for drivers to ply or maneuver the road as they should. Meanwhile the MTTD, the authority responsible for road safety fails to dispatch personnel to these tensed spots or positions to help regulate vehicular movements. Neither do they patrol these points to check the abuse by users of the road; drivers and pedestrian inclusive. They are culpable when it comes to security on our roads and play key roles in some of these unfortunate incidents (accidents) we witness.
The indiscipline of drivers cannot be over looked. These days some drivers have refused to heed to road safety signs. Apart from this, some drivers also take in hard liquor which they opine, boost their morale and motivates them to drive better. But what they seem to forget is that the moment they get behind the wheel, they are responsible for the lives of every single being including themselves and hence must take safety precautions when driving especially on long journeys.
What is my cry and my call for which I write? I believe that with the recent occurrences of accidents on our roads, if all of us including government take responsibilities of our lives and that of others, we will always bear in mind that we just have one life to live. This life can achieve and do a lot for ourselves and others. When we lose it, we lose all. Let us protect our lives and properties by being disciplined and responsible citizens.
As the preside, fondly reechoes at every opportune occasion, “let us be citizens and not spectators”.
Ghana Institute of Journalism.