Support Gov’t to halt spate of road crashes –Veep
By Phyllis D. Osabutey
THE VICE President, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur has called on the public, businesses and civil society to assist the government in addressing the menace of incessant road accidents.
He said road crashes result in about 2000 deaths a year in the country, while about 60% of crash victims are between the productive years of 18–55 years. He noted that the government through the public agencies alone cannot handle the problem.
According to him, fatalities and injuries play a vital role in countries cycle of poverty because they shatter families, rob society of bread winners, deprive businesses of skilled labour, cast families into massive health-related debt, consume hospital resources and hinder local economies.
The Veep was speaking at the 3rd National Road Safety Awards on the theme: “The Sustainable Growth of the Road Transport System – Role of Road Safety”, which was held in Accra on Thursday.
The Occasion was also used to open the 4th Annual General Meeting of the West African Road Safety Organization (WARSO) on the theme, “Consolidating the Decade of Action for Road Safety through Regional Integration.”
He expressed worry that every day, road crashes account for about 3,200 lives globally, and about 1.2 million deaths yearly, leaving several million others incapacitated.
He said in developing countries, road traffic crashes cost roughly $65 billion a year, stressing “In some countries, the cost of road crashes outweigh the amount received in international aid, consuming as much as 2% of Gross National Product.”
Amissah-Arthur said he was convinced that the WARSO meeting would create opportunities to share experiences and impact positively on the lives of road users in the West African sub-region.
As he further pointed out, “We cannot afford to ignore road safety as it has become a global public health issue that must be confronted with local and regional efforts.”
In view of this, he said government was not concerned only about the rate of crashes on the roads but also committed to supervise a reversal of the situation because “transport is an integral part of the pursuit of socio-economic opportunities through accessibility, availability and safe or improved mobility.”
About the awards, he said it recognizes transport unions that have over the last year introduced and implemented existing internal control systems that deliver quality assurance to the travelling public.
He congratulated all award winners and said several new ideas have been translated into law to improve the national road safety situation including measures to facilitate a broad based sensitization programme on the new areas embedded in the law to allow for its smooth implementation.
He added that “government will review the mandate of the National Road safety Commission (NRSC) in order for it to be more assertive as the lead statutory agency for the promotion and coordination of road safety efforts.
The Executive Director of the NRSC, Noble John Appiah said the awards focus on transport organizations as a demonstration of the need for operators to develop and implement policies which impact positively on road safety.
According to him, when transport operators institute safety related operational standards, road users benefit, and the image of the industry is enhanced.
Backing the call of the Veep, he said road safety is a collective responsibility where partnership with the private sector is an essential component.
He pointed out that it was not enough to have a national policy for safety, a ten-year National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) among others but “what is required is the passion and commitment we attach to road safety in this country.”
He urged all stakeholders to recommit themselves to the road safety agenda in the country by implementing action plans agreed by all agencies involved in implementing the NRSS III, stressing, “There should be no excuses or blame games, or the lack of funding. We want agencies to be innovative and creative.”
He thanked all safety related agencies who support the implementation of the NRSS III, adding, “We should continue to be focused and scale up our programmes to enable the country achieve the national vision and strategic objectives for road safety.”
On his part, the President of WARSO, Osita Chidoka Ofr noted that it was unfortunate that the efforts of governments in the sub-region would have no effect if nothing was done to check the tide of road crashes and the resulting deaths and injuries on the countries.
He said, “The situation we have calls for urgent steps and actions, and a collective effort if we must get out of the woods of underdevelopment to modernity and self-sufficiency.”
He urged all partners to work with WARSO and the lead agencies in the respective countries for national development through partnership and regional integration instruments by ensuring road safety at all times, saying, “the time to act is now!”
He said as a matter of necessity, member nations should endeavour to meet their individual commitments in the payment of membership dues, actual participation, and make meaningful contributions towards changing the present uncomplimentary positions on the international placement scale as least developed, least motorized, yet with highest cases of road crashes.
Some of the award winners included in the Transport Union/Organization category, Great Imperial Transport Ltd, J.K Horgle Transport Ltd in the Haulage(Liquid) category, Freight Links logistics in the Haulage(Solid)category.
Media personnel who won awards included Geoffrey Buta of Ghanaian Times, Mavis Obeng-Mensah of GTV and Francisca Kakra Forson of Joy FM.
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