Human Recklessness

Considering the proneness of our highways to fatal accidents and against the backdrop of the recent one on the notorious Kintampo to Tamale stretch, the discourse on the subject must continue until sanity is restored on our roads. And above all when unusual actions are taken in response to the rising spate of fatalities on our roads.

Perhaps raising the subject to the level of the coronavirus in terms of severity would go a long way to assist us find an antidote to the highway madness.

Why should highway accidents claim fatalities with double digit statistics? It is simply unacceptable and, therefore, requires a policy action as pointed out in a previous commentary.

We are constrained to return to this subject because of an emerged revelation regarding what caused the fire which consumed dozens of lives.

That there was petrol in a container and a motorbike both on board one of the vehicles was an indisputable factor for the ignition. With both vehicles being diesel powered, there could not have been fire following the impact without an inflammable fluid such as petrol on board one of the vehicles.  

There is a dearth of precautionary measures in our road management regimen, especially in the private sector. Indeed, had the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) under which most of the commercial vehicles operate in the country established a system of checks for their countrywide membership, some accidents could have been obviated.

Only stupidity would push a passenger to carry petrol in a container in a commercial vehicle with other passengers on board. It is also ignorance about the flammability of petrol which would make passengers in a vehicle not raise objection about its presence in the compartment of a vehicle.

We think that the GPRTU has an important role to play in ensuring road safety through a properly coordinated driver education programme with the support of the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) and other players in the road transport industry.

The information that one of the dead Kintampo accident drivers was dozing is sufficient evidence that many try to disregard their fatigued conditions after driving over a long distance without taking a rest.

It would not be out of place to demand that officials of the GPRTU who manage the lorry stations from where the commercial buses commence their journeys to, for instance, inspect the compartment of such vehicles for petrol in containers.

Other safety measures which the union can undertake with the initiative taken by the NRSC and the other stakeholders should be ensuring that drivers after a long trip take mandatory rests.

Alcohol level in the blood of drivers before the start of journeys should also be measured.

These might sound far-fetched but when applied religiously, it would reduce to the barest minimum the accident rates on the highways.

In the long run too, as we have always pointed out, anytime we return to this subject, the dualisation of our major highways should be considered by policymakers.  

We long for the final resuscitation of the railway system in the country because this alternative is safer than our blood-sucking roads, as it were.