Junior Graphic Editorial: Don’t put schoolchildren’s lives at risk

BY: Junior Graphic

The high rate of road accidents is a great concern to everyone in the country. This is because the precious lives of citizens who could have contributed their quota to the development of the country are lost.

According to a Road Traffic Crash and Casualty Situation Report from the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, between January and March this year, 744 people perished from road crashes.

Also, statistics from the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) indicate that 293 children under 18 years died in road accidents from January to September last year. Out of that number, 193 were boys, while 100 were girls.

Besides, in May this year, it was reported in the media that six children met their untimely deaths at Ankaase in the Krachi West District in the Oti Region when they were knocked down by a vehicle while they were on their way home from school.

According to the Public Relations Officer of the NRSA, Ms Pearl Adusu, child deaths from road crashes were a source of worry to the authority, for which reason, over the years, new ways had been introduced to protect children on our roads.

It is worthy of note that most private schools provide buses to transport schoolchildren to and from school so that the children will be safe.

However, school authorities, in their bid to ensure the safety of schoolchildren, also put their lives at risk.

According to the Head of Regulations, Inspection, and Compliance of the NRSA, Mr Kwame Kodua Atuahene, some school vehicles had sub-standard seats and worn-out tyres, while others did not have seat belts and retro-reflective tapes.

Aside from that, some school authorities did not employ qualified drivers, some buses were often overloaded and the drivers stopped at unauthorised places to pick up or drop off schoolchildren, he said.

Moreover, he said, the children who boarded the buses sometimes did not have supervisors to ensure that they (children) did not misbehave while the vehicle was in motion (see front page story).

All these put the lives of children at risk because they could lead to road accidents and result in deaths.

It is, therefore, unfortunate that when the NRSA asked private schools to submit data on their school vehicles, very few of the schools responded.

Inasmuch as schools are providing transport services to make going to school and returning home convenient for both children and parents, school authorities should ensure that the right thing is done and that the buses operate within the dictates of the law.

This is why the Junior Graphic supports the move by the NRSA to clamp down on schools that operate with rickety buses.

Schools that are found culpable should face the full rigours of the law to serve as a deterrent to others.

The Junior Graphic suggests that effective monitoring mechanisms should be in place to put school authorities on their toes and ensure that they abide by all road safety regulations. This will also help in reducing accidents on our roads.

Since children are the future leaders, there is a need to ensure their safety at all times. Their lives are too precious to be toyed with.