It is absolutely erroneous and condemnable the belief among certain Ghanaians that the numerous lorry accidents occurring frequently on our Ghana roads have spiritual background or connection. The whole saga becomes an inextricable maze with the frenzied predictions by our apparently false prophets and fetish priests who claim same. By their lies meant to frighten people in order to get us scuttle to them to be extorted, as ignorant and scared of death as we are, we can hardly find lasting solutions to arrest the fatal accidents claiming the lives of our loved ones prematurely.
The worrisome lorry accidents happening on our roads on daily basis are not caused by any evil spirits but by deliberate or inadvertent human and mechanical errors. Until we have known and understood the actual root causes of the accidents and resolved them, we shall continually have innocent lives claimed untimely on our Ghana roads.
To the best of my knowledge as informed by empirical observation, most or all of the frequently occurred lorry or vehicular accidents on our Ghana roads in particular, are caused by the following:
The disrespect for driving license codes, traffic regulations and road signs. How many drivers in Ghana understand and respect the codes and road signs? We have completely exhausted and intermittently (for seconds) dozing off drivers at the wheels of vehicles/cars. Some drivers for no justifiable reasons are infatuated with overspeeding when driving. They do not respect the speed limits for the roads. They overtake cars where they should not – they may not have far enough visibility of the road ahead of them yet, they speed to overtake cars in front of them. This attempt by them often leads to their cars having head-on collision with oncoming cars. When they realise their mistake, it may be too late to do anything sensible to avoid collision hence accident.
When there are straight continuous double-white lines on the road, I have witnessed vehicles/cars still doing overtaking. When the road is about to lead into a curve, I have seen drivers still attempt to overtake the cars in front of them. Some drivers try to overtake more cars in front of them at one go. When during their maneuvering and it does happen that there is an oncoming car, they have little or no chance to evade the imminent accident that has become unavoidable but drive into it to kill people.
How many drivers do periodic eye tests in Ghana to check the distance of the visibility of their eyesight? The problem with eyesight can cause road lorry accidents, especially when a driver is myopic but does not wear eyeglasses. Some drivers may drink alcohol or be intoxicated while driving. This may affect their alertness, make them feel weak and tired with the possibility of unknowingly dozing off for seconds from time to time while still behind the wheels of the car.
BAD STATE OF THE ROADS
The deplorable state of some of the roads, especially the potholes in the roads, do immensely contribute to lorry accidents. Drivers can drive into potholes at a speed and that can cause the car to somersault or go into ditch. Drivers are known to attempt to avoid the potholes in their lanes by choosing to drive in those of the oncoming vehicles and if they are not lucky enough and an oncoming vehicle suddenly appears, bang, an accident has happened. I have come across non macadamized roads that become slippery in the rainy season. That also can cause lorry accident on the road especially when the car is driving uphill or descending a hill.
There are some speed humps on the roads that are not conspicuously or properly marked. When drivers not familiar with the areas where such speed humps are drive at a speed into them, lorry accident can be caused.
Some vehicles are not serviced regularly hence may suffer brake and gear faults at crucial times. Some have worn out tyres etc. All vehicular mechanical faults are potential to cause road accidents.
THE ATTITUDES OF THE POLICE
The attitudes of the Motor Transport and Traffic Unit (MTTU) police officers on Ghana roads can be blamed for some of the lorry accidents happening on the roads. I am certain their duties are to check that drivers are respecting the traffic regulations; not overspeeding, not drink driving over the legal alcohol limit, the vehicles having all their requisite documents valid and are roadworthy.
Nonetheless, most of these police officers mount temporary roadblocks on the roads anywhere anyhow ONLY to extort money from the drivers. They do not check for anything pertaining to the duties for which they have been employed and get paid for. I can personally bear witness to this disgusting, unethical and corrupt attitudes by the police. I had on occasions had run-ins with the police when I spot them taking bribes. The latest of such altercations with the police was in March 2019 when a police officer was taking bribe from the driver of the bus on which I was a passenger. I was on holiday in Ghana and was travelling from Kumasi to Effiduase. This incident took place between the stretch of the road between Ejisu-Krapa and Kwamo on the Kumasi to Accra highway.
With the idea that regardless of the faulty state of the vehicle (car) when stopped by the police, they will only take bribe and let the driver carry on, some drivers have cultivated that attitude of nonchalance when it comes to servicing their car.
I have seen passenger buses and private cars being driven without driving mirrors. In one such car that dropped me off after visiting a family, I told the driver they give the police the illegal chance to exact bribes from them. As soon as I returned to London, I phoned up the children of the car owner to get their father’s car sorted as its current state is very hazardous.
Should the police behave responsibly professionally, some motor accidents on Ghana roads can be avoided. Should they arrest defaulting drivers and get them prosecuted and convicted in court, drivers will repair their cars, not overspeed and not drink while behind the steering wheel.
Drivers who feel tired and sleepy must please stop and take some rest. There must be two drivers on the passenger buses traveling long distances to take turns in driving and resting. Passengers should voice out when a driver is overspeeding, overtaking another car, all needlessly and dangerously. Drivers must respect the traffic regulations and the road signs. The government must seek to repair the potholes on our roads. Individual rich persons can help with the repairs of roads, especially those in their hometowns, those in where they live etc.
The DVLA must withdraw, or dock points from, the license of any driver caught driving dangerously on the road.
Any police officer found taking bribes from a driver for whatever reason must be prosecuted and convicted to a prison term or a fine. Car owners must warn their drivers to respect traffic regulations in default of which they must take the cars away from them. Drivers must have their eyes tested from time to time.
I am still reminding the Inspector General of Police, Mr David Asante-Apeatu, to sort out the MTTU police officers on the stretch of road between Ejisu-Krapa-Kwamo on the Kumasi-Accra highway. They are there only to take bribes from the drivers but nothing else. I am ready to send a courier-delivered registered mail to the IGP about the attitude of these corrupt officers.
I pray for road safety for all those traveling to various places for the Easter festivities. A blessed Easter to you all.