President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed the Police Service to adopt innovative and intelligent traffic management solutions to help stem the increasing road accidents.
That, he said, would require that the police also formed partnerships with the private sector to increase the enforcement of road traffic laws and regulations.
President Akufo-Addo, who gave the directive at the maiden Kofi Annan Road Safety Award in Accra last Wednesday, identified indiscipline and disrespect for road regulations in relation to travel speed, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, not wearing of seat belts and overtaking without due care for other vehicles as major issues that needed to be addressed to bring down traffic injuries and fatalities.
He gave an assurance that the government remained committed to bringing about the needed reforms in the area of legislation, institutional and logistical capacity to help reverse the trend of deaths and injuries on the roads.
The Kofi Annan Road Safety Award is in recognition of the role Kofi Annan, the late former United Nations Secretary-General, played in raising awareness of the enormity of the global road safety challenge and also encourage countries to make the roads safer.
Countries honoured for their remarkable effort to deal with the road carnage were Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco and South Africa.
Organised by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Secretariat of the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Road Safety and the Ministry of Transport of Ghana, with the support of the Kofi Annan Foundation, the primary objective of the award is to motivate key stakeholders – governments, the private sector and civil society organisations – to develop and implement innovative and outstanding initiatives to save lives on Africa's roads.
The event was on the theme: “ Safer and Cleaner Vehicles in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities in the Second UN Decade of Action for Road Safety (2021-2030)”.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), when it comes to road accidents, Africa pays the heaviest price, with the world's highest fatality rate of 26.6 road deaths per 100,000 population, compared to the world average of 17.5 per 100,000 and 9.3 per 100,000 in Europe.
Making reference to the assent he gave to a new law in 2019 that sought to enhance effectively the mandate of the National Road Safety Authority to ensure compliance with rules, safety policies and guidelines, the President said he had been informed that the necessary regulation, along with the review of the primary governance framework for road traffic management, was being reviewed.
The review, he explained, was to respond to the changing social norms and values and also take on board new and best practices in the road transport sector.
President Akufo-Addo admitted that the current road safety situation was not satisfactory, but gave an assurance that the government remained committed to scaling up investment in road safety initiatives and building partnerships that would help engineer improvement.
He said the multi-sectoral nature of road safety required stronger collaboration among all stakeholders, and that was why he constituted an inter-ministerial committee to address the road safety situation and recommend measures that could be employed to reduce road traffic accidents.
The President said the committee identified a number of issues, key among them being indiscipline on the part of road users and funding and logistical challenges to implement fully road safety interventions.
That assessment, he noted, represented similar happenings in various countries in Africa, adding: “Without innovative approaches and initiatives, we will find it difficult to save lives on Africa's roads.”
While stating that road traffic accidents must be seen as a global pandemic, the President said that would enable the canker to assume a more proactive and responsible attitude to deal with it.
“Increasingly, the exposure of pedestrians and motorcyclists to the risk of road traffic casualties, particularly in the urban environment, can no longer be overlooked,” he added.
Illustrious Kofi Annan
Ghana’s Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, who received the country’s award, said naming an event to reward excellence in road safety after the illustrious Mr Annan was, undoubtedly, the most honourable gift to celebrate the Ghanaian, African son and global road safety advocate.
He noted that road transport continued to remain the dominant mode of transport, serving as the main vehicle for growth and industrial transformation, and that despite its importance, it was an area which had not fared well.
“Most of our cities are prone to road traffic crashes and attendant fatalities and injuries. It is perhaps not out of place to say that road traffic crashes are the new global pandemic, considering the daily death on our roads,” he stated.
The United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the ECA, Dr Vera Songwe, called on President Akufo-Addo to use his influence to move a motion for adoption at the African Union that vehicles entering Africa must be road worthy.