Rotary Launches Road Safety Campaign in Accra

Asiedu Aboagye has been driving taxi in Ghana's capital city of Accra for the past 22 years

The Rotary Club of Accra-Labone in partnership with the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit and the Driver and Vehicle Licencing bureaux have launched a Road Safety Campaign aimed at educating Ghana’s motoring public.

This initiative is a result of increased numbers in traffic related deaths, as according to the MTTU’s nation wide accident statistics. These are numbers Officer Simon Tenkuu of the MTTU says the country can not be proud of.

“The traffic situation in Accra is becoming quite disturbing,” he says. “When it comes to the accident rate at the metro police, it is high – due mostly to indiscipline of drivers.”

According to the MTTU nation wide accident statistics, traffic related deaths were up to 1,679 in only nine months, between January to September 2011 and traffic related deaths remain the number one cause of fatality between those aged ten to 24 in Ghana.

Although accidents in large cities are common, the report shows a majority of traffic related deaths take place on main roadways between key cities such as Accra, Kumasi and Takaradi. These are findings Tenkuu says take place because roadways are in better condition, and therefore, drivers tend to speed and lose control.

“Unfortunately,” he says, “In this part of the world it is the good roads that kill.”

Youth and commercial drivers are main offenders in roadway accidents according to the report, and Officer Tenkuu believes the increased number of drivers is a direct result of the high volume of imported cars.

Although the main mandate of police is law enforcement – a collaboration between drivers, pedestrians and government officials is needed to reduce traffic related deaths and accidents. Tenkuu says the MTTU strongly believes in the need to educate the public on issues related to road safety and says their unit has made it a pro-active policy to do so – being the drive behind the partnership with Rotary in the Make Roads Safe Campaign.

“We appreciate what Rotary is doing and we hope that other organizations and civil society will emulate the campaign,” he says. “Road safety is a collective responsibility and the police alone can not ensure road safety [stability], we need everybody to get onboard.”

As a result of these findings, the Make Roads Safe Campaign focuses on educating pedestrians and drivers – specifically young drivers and commercial drivers – on proper road safety. The campaign will be an ongoing initiative and is something driver Asiedu Aboagye says is essential for road safety improvement.

Aboagye has been driving taxi in Ghana’s capital city of Accra for the past 22 years. He was a participant in the Make Roads Safe Campaign launch, where trained physicians spent the afternoon offering free eye-exams to the public, offering prescriptions, medication for minor problems and education on road safety.

Based on his experience, Aboagye says he has noticed an increase in careless driving within recent years. As many in Ghana do not attend driving school – or have the means to do so – before obtaining a drivers license, many drivers remain unaware of roads signs, consequences of unsafe vehicle conditions and responsible driving.

Aboagye, who is a member of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union, says there is currently limited opportunity to receive road safety education and society as a whole should work together to create road safety awareness.

“We shouldn’t just think about driving to get money,” Aboagye says. “But should make time to educate ourselves as well.”

Rotary Club of Accra-Labone President Charles Amamoo Tawiah Boakye, recognizes severities of road related accidents. He says that as Rotarians, members have a moral, civic and professional responsibility to work tirelessly towards reducing road traffic crashes and casualties.

As President Elect of the Club Adwoa Oforiwah Kye says, this is a cause of extreme importance as drivers are people who literally hold our lives in their hands every day.

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About mnewlands

Working in Ghana with Journalists for Human Rights is a dream job for Michelle. With a background in print and online journalism and a post-graduate certificate in International Support Work, Michelle has worked in media relations with numerous non-profit organizations and has freelanced for multiple Canadian magazines. She strongly believes in the power of media as a tool of development and is an experienced educational facilitator, with a focus on international experiential learning. She is pleased to have the opportunity to incorporate her knowledge in journalism, experience in facilitation and passion for human rights at the African University College of Communications working with students and faculty as a Rights Media Educational Officer.