Accra and Kumasi have been selected to benefit from a $240-million fund earmarked to curb road accidents within the next six years in 30 cities in 15 countries around the world.
The project, which is an initiative of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), is expected to prevent road traffic deaths over the six-year period spanning 2020 to 2025.
In a virtual ceremony to unveil the partnership between BIGRS and the government yesterday, the Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Authority (AMA), Mr. Mohammed Adjei Sowah, said past collaborations between BIGRS and the AMA targeted at similar interventions had contributed to the reduction of road accidents in the capital city.
He said the interventions included road safety enhancement works at the Lapaz intersection, which saw an increase in the pedestrian signal timing, lowering of kerbs where pedestrians crossed the road to ensure unimpeded and safe pedestrian flow, and the replacement of damaged crash barriers.
He said it also included a "mass media campaign titled 'School Girl' which was carried out last year to crown the five-year road safety works with BIGRS, and it reached nearly one million people, according to post-campaign evaluation".
Mr Sowah noted that such interventions were important because since 2007, the initiative had saved nearly 312,000 lives and prevented up to 11.5 million injuries.
He said there was, however, more to do as some 1.3 million people were killed in road crashes every year globally and needed to be checked.
"Unfortunately, we aren't immune to this tragedy. In Ghana, there were approximately six road traffic deaths recorded every day in 2016, and Accra's roads saw 1,812 crashes in 2018 alone," Mr Sowah said.
Data compiled by the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service indicated that 1,175 people were killed in road crashes in the country in the first half of this year — from January to June.
Mr. Sowah said the legalisation of the commercial motorbike business — okada — would pose a serious public health threat to the city of Accra and the country.
"The okada business may be serving a public transport need, but regrettably a majority of them ride recklessly, speed above the legal limit and disregard safety and other road regulations, contributing to an increase in injuries and deaths," he said.
Mr Sowah also acknowledged that there was a challenge of enforcement and regulation of existing public transport modes, which gave an indication of problems likely to be encountered if the use of okada was legalised.
The Minister of Transport, Mr Kweku Ofori Asiamah, pledged the support of the ministry to help prevent road crashes in the two major cities.
Bloomberg Philanthropies announced in February during the third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety organised by the World Health Organisation, a doubling of its support for global road safety, securing another $240 million between 2020 and 2025 to save 600,000 lives and prevent up to 22 million injuries in low- and middle-income participating countries around the world.
Currently enrolled cities include Addis Ababa, Bogota, Gusdalaja, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Kampala, Mumbai, Bengaluru and New Delhi.