Ghana

Declare lack of safety on roads health hazard – NGO director

Hazard The particiapnats after the meeting Photo Godwin Ofosu Acheampong

The government has been advised to declare the lack of safety on the road as a public health hazard.

This should be part of the measures to curb the menace on the roads.

Appiah Kusi Adomako, West African Regional Director of CUTS International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), who gave the advice, explained that currently, road crashes was killing and injuring more Ghanaians than diseases already described as health hazards.

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Citing the novel COVID-19 outbreak as an example, he said, the disease, as of yesterday had killed 1,459 people in the country while road crashes had been responsible for the death of 1,443 persons between January and July this year.

Speaking at a Civil Society Organisation’s (CSO) Forum on Road Safety in Accra yesterday, he noted that the declaration of road safety as a public health hazard would enable Parliament to approve more funding for road safety interventions.

Mr Adomako further argued that the move would empower law enforcement agencies to diligently carry out more road traffic enforcement.

He said the numerous fatal road accidents in the country was as a result of poor road engineering, absence of street lights, behavioural risk driving including texting or receiving a call while driving and driving under the influence of alcohol.

This, he stated, required a strong road safety policy framework, sustained public awareness campaigns and effective enforcement of road regulations and laws to reduce road traffic injuries and fatalities.

To enhance the advocacy, Mr Adomako said platforms of CSOs have been initiated to advocate and engage with policy makers on matters regarding road safety.

The platform, he noted, would use evidence and strength-in-numbers to bring about policy changes, amendments and enforcement on various road traffic regulations through dialogue, engagement and advocacy to reduce significantly the current surge in road accidents and pedestrian safety in the country.

“CSOs have over the years played a critical role in engaging with policymakers and government to advocate reforms aimed at making the country better.

Through networking, advocacy and policy engagement, this platform can do a lot of work to cause the government to act on road safety,” he stated.

Mr Adomako said the platform would hold Road Safety capacity building and sensitisation, Road Safety advocacy campaigns, targeted public awareness campaigns and collaborate with relevant road safety agencies to ensure effective enforcement of road safety laws.

Mr Daniel Wuaku, Deputy Director, Planning and Programmes, National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), commended the platform for taking active interest in the menace of road crashes saying “the initiative is timely and good for fighting to end fatal road crashes.”

 He noted that the Authority would provide the needed support to ensure the desired objectives were achieved.

Chief Superintendent Dr Samuel Sasu-Mensah, Director of Operations, Motor Traffic and Transport Directorate of the Ghana Police Service, said available statistics indicated that drunk driving and over-speeding were the leading causes of road accidents in the country.

He therefore charged the road safety platform to collaborate with the relevant authorities to intensify advocacy on drunk driving and over-speeding.

Nana Enu Kpanyili Annor Amihere II, Overlord of Aiyinasi and Basake in the Nzema Area in the Western Region, urged government to develop the country’s railway system, which was key in reducing road carnage.

BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS