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Okoaba - Road safety, driver discipline and transport in Ghana

Posted by abocco on Tue, 01/23/2007 - 08:24 GhanaThink Managing Executive

...Sounds on da ground and seens on the see-ins

In the summer of 2004, Obour embarked on a road safety campaign as part of promoting his album and havng a nationwide concert tour all over Ghana to about 35 towns. It was unprecedented, very successful and well publicized. I happened to catch the Cape Coast show. The lead single was Menwu biom meaning 'I will not die again' talking about how he had escaped death on many occasions. I was not surprised to see him continue his road safety campaign to this day, presently partnering with the government, and having a music video/ad preaching road safety. Okoaba is not just a song, it is a socially conscious project as well.

Obour is a smart hiplife artiste. In the wake of Ghana's 50th (golden) anniversary, he is jointly doing an album with the evergreen A. B. Crentsil to celebrate Ghanaian music and merge hiplife with highlife. Their 'Best of the Lifes' album has tracks like Adwoa, Anyen (Devil), Juliana, Our father, Aponkyereni, Gyae su and Aburokyire Nkomo. Okoaba is a song about road safety and means "(s)he is going and will come". Since Obour lost a very loved one to an accident and almost passed away in a few, he really appreciates the notion of travelling and returning in peace and not pieces. The song has excellent lyrics. After lamenting the accidents and subsequent deaths, the indiscipline on our roads, our stubbornness towards change, etc, he goes on to advise people on what to do as drivers, statesmen, police men, youth, Christians, and musicians to improve road safety.

Accidents have resulted in many fatalities and injuries recently, week in, week out. Countless statesmen and ministers have been lost, the three urologists (doctors), as well as Suzzy Williams, Terry Bonchaka, etc. It is a serious problem that must be addressed on various levels and by walks of life to save innocent lives. Overspeeding, and overtaking are rife and the way we park is terrible. Drunk driving is not uncommon and we seem to love giving our attention to cell phones instead of the roads, or human lives whiles driving. Countless vehicles on our roads are also in bad shape or poorly maintained and drivers need to show some responsible behaviour.

There is too much driver indisicipline in Ghana. I haven't been driving in Ghana but I have witnessed too many silly driving decisions and road rages, and these do not speak well of Ghanaian drivers. I don't enjoy the way 'cars carrying large sums of money' (apparently because armed robbers would chase them) and 'ministerial and government convoys' are allowed to bypass traffic. We suffer in this go-slow together, if you do not enjoy it, be about changing or improving the situation! Efforts must be made to make sure our drivers are aware of traffic rules and when they commit such offences, they must be brought to book. The authorities who keep order must ensure that these socially unacceptable traffic offences are not repeated and drivers desist from creating inconveniences for other drivers and pedestrians alike.

A lot of this driver indiscipline and road rage has to do with the poor transport and road infrastructure in the country. Our roads cry for traffic lights, signs, street lights and above all, proper planning. I was thinking that the government would dedicate a significant amount of funds towards improving and expanding our roads in the event of the number of people expected to be in Ghana this jubilee year. That would be a great gift to Ghanaians. For instance, the Kumasi-Accra road's progress has been so slow, it is almost stagnant. Is it only in Ghana that roads have to be spoilt to be fixed? I think the dual carriageway is not even sufficient. Accra is choked with traffic and activity. If we could open the rest of the country with a great transportation network, it would enable Accra to breathe and develop other parts of Ghana. I also believe the citizenry must take the mantle of improving the roads, at least in their communities and neighbourhoods. Just like the real estate companies are constructing new neighbourhoods, various communities can liaise with construction companies to improve their urban and road infrastructure. We must not always wait for the government.

The traffic situations in places like Accra and Kumasi are horrible at times but we must have patience as drivers. I congratulate Obour and the National Road Safety Campaign on their efforts. I hope the general public would give it the serious attention it deserves and act accordingly.

Full Okoaba lyrics.


Comments

African Road Safety Conference in Accra

This is one of the topics we're currently adressing in my Health Policy class, which is a little short of depressing. For interest's sake, WHO is holding this year's African Road Safety Conference in Accra this February. The theme for this year is "Translating Goals into Action through Collaboration and Advocacy." The pdf link:

http://www.afro.who.int/events/road_safety.pdf

Road Safety is a serious issue in our homecountries, this winter (summer :-)) break alone, I can't begin to count the number of lives lost on the road, the fact that it was festive season didn't help. Effectiveness of Road Safety Policies needs to be re evaluated, people need to certainly be more cautious and respectful of one another and we definitely need to invest more into developing/improving our infrastructure. I remember walking back from primary school everyday, I could have won an Academy for my perfected skills of dodging fast speeding cars. I hope good news will come out of this conference, and later be turned into action towards positive change, in order to save the lives of our people. Nice to hear about Obour's campaign too, I'd love to see more artists get involved in such efforts to better serve the communities with which they most closely identify (and care about).

"Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can
change the world - indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Meade


ROADS

Amazing how our roads in Ghana; save for a few seem to have faded at tarmac level and gone port-holed as soon as the rains set in. One can just lose count of the number of times roads have to be re-constructed.
And need i say more about signs? You could drive for miles along some of the major routes without even coming across a speed, terrain or crossing sign. What you get instead is billboards advertising so and so Enterprise Ltd and so and so chop bar all littered along. The bitumen can be so slippery in places your tyre grips are just not able to cope. Basically, roads are not solid and slip resistant as they should be, and add a combination of speed bandits and dodgy cars (badly maintained) on the road and what you get is a recipe for mayhem.

It also never ceases to amaze me how politicians past and present always use roads as a bait for getting votes. What is more important to them; national development or their political suits? Poor rural communities who could do with roads to hasten the transport of essential produce only get to see these bespectacled, goatee bearded and pork chopped opportunists of politicians every four years or so in those remote areas.
We come bearing gifts they say and out comes the plans for the major link from the little village of DOKOROKYIWA to Abetifi. We need your votes; they chant.

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.


GhanaThink Managing Executive

Vehicle monitoring - improving road safety

Obour didn't exactly call out our engineers, entrepreneurs and inventors in his road safety campaign but they seem to be doing their part, at least in Kenya.

Mumbi's Dial-a-Cab company is one of 20 fleet firms in Kenya which have adopted a new vehicle-tracking technology that has been made possible by the growth of mobile phones.
The brains behind this new technology are two young IT enthusiasts, Paul Mahiaini and Waweru Kimani.
"This technology has brought big benefits to our company" - Dial-A-Cab owner Mumbi Muriuki.
"We saw a gap in the market with fleet owners having a huge problem monitoring their vehicles," says Mahiaini, who acts as marketing director of Stoic Company.
"Misuse of vehicles by drivers is common, as is fuel theft, and fleet owners in the past relied on drivers to tell them the location of each vehicle.

More on this story here


I think the issue is with

I think the issue is with our Law Enforcers, if they will stop taking bribes and fine / prosecute reckless drivers, i am pretty sure these horrific road incident will go down. You can find a lot of reckless drivers every where but with proper rules and regulations, people will adhere to them. drivers in the US for instance don't necessarily want to go by the speed limit but they know when they are caught they will get fined and or points on their license which will increase their insurance premium... etc, and most people don't want that so they drive a more carefully.

Granted every driver should be responsible on the road but in the case where that is not happening, i think the law enforcers should step in and take the necessary measures to curb these accidents