Who monitors traffic lights?
One rainy Sunday afternoon while driving on the Adenta to Aburi stretch of the N3 road, right after the Adenta Police Station, my attention was drawn to the non-functioning traffic light ahead. Therefore, I took all the precautionary measures expected of a driver to slow down.
Unfortunately , however, few metres to the junction, I was crossed by a car that suddenly swerved from its lane to mine and stopped abruptly to avoid running into a car that had also stopped to give way to vehicles entering from the side road.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t avoid the situation thus crashed into its rear and also had my rear crashed by a passenger car behind me. A situation that could have been avoided had the traffic light been functioning.
In my case, I together with the occupants in the other vehicles was fortunate to have escaped unhurt, but there are others who have experienced this situation before but had not lived to tell their stories.
Traffic lights are supposed to bring sanity on our roads by controlling congestions and motor accidents. And it is somebody’s responsibility to ensure that they are in good condition at all times. But are they really being monitored and serving the purpose for which they were mounted?
I took it upon myself to keenly observe the functionality of traffic lights on some part of our roads notably the Pantang Junction, Adenta Dodowa Intersection, Adenta Barrier junction, SDA Junction, Riis Junction, Madina Zongo Junction, IPS Junction and the Okponglo Intersection.
At these junctions and intersections, one can easily spot crashed traffic lights lying on the median of the road with some still functioning while others are disconnected depending on the severity of the impact.
Others only show amber, while others occasionally show the same colour for motorists from all directions creating confusion in the process.
I also realised that there are solar mounted security cameras known as Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS) on some of the junctions and intersections. They were installed a few years ago to help curb accidents at accident-prone areas and also monitor vehicular and human activities around.
These technologies were said to be fully automatic and can run in all kinds of weather to obtain evidence of traffic violations such as traffic signal violation, speeding violation, jumping red traffic lights, yellow line occupancy, crossing restricted areas, among other offences.
This was a laudable project but unfortunately traffic lights under its radar are ineffective and accidents keep soaring while drivers infringe regulations freely.
As of January 2018, statistics from the National Road Safety Commission indicated that 1,071 road crashes had occurred with 180 deaths, leaving 1,171 with various degree of injuries.
These accidents were blamed on blatant disregard for road regulations by drivers, as well as road infrastructural failures including traffic lights.
The Department of Urban Roads (DUR) identified vandalising controllers, stealing of cables and throwing refuse into controllers as some of the challenges affecting the functions of traffic lights.
The DUR again stated that they are responsible for allocating funds and maintaining the traffic light, while Private Firms on contract manage it.
The (Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) is responsible for arresting drivers who break down the traffic lights.
Surprisingly, the MTTD, despite being at most junctions and intersections often seems not to have an upper hand in monitoring traffic lights.
ACP (retired) Tandoh, a retired boss of the MTTD, revealed in an online news that it was expected of a driver who crash down a traffic light to report to the police for investigations after which the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) takes over to replace the traffic light.
Thus, the DUR, the MTTD, the GHA and other private firms all admit to play a role in ensuring safety on our roads.
Despite all these, however, the condition of traffic lights in the country is still nothing to write home about. So once again I ask, who monitors traffic lights on our roads?