First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, has directed the Ministry of Transport to ensure that drivers do not abuse the use of sirens.
Mr. Osei-Owusu said those who used sirens but without an authority to do so must be arrested and prosecuted.
According to him, the impunity with which people in authority, including parliamentarians, abuse the use of sirens on the road was emboldening members of the public to follow suit.
He, therefore, advised the Ministry to strengthen the Police Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) to arrest those in authority just as they would to ordinary citizens who breach the law.
Mr Osei-Owusu made the observations after Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, the Minister of Transport, had apprised Parliament of the policies and programmes the Ministry was instituting to address recent road crashes in the country.
He said despite the Ministry’s directive to the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) to intensify its advocacy on road safety, non-enforcement of road traffic regulations would make the effort null-void.
Mr Asiamah said statistics on road traffic crashes and casualties as at 30th October 2018 indicate that 11,159 crashes had so far been recorded nationwide.
This involved 18,063 vehicles including 3,156 motorcycles, which had resulted in 1,921 lives lost and 11,130 persons injured.
He noted that 2,602 pedestrians were knocked down out of which 626 were killed.
These statistics show an increase in all the parameters, with the exception of pedestrian knockdowns, which shows a decrease of 5.48 per cent over the same period last year.
‘Our worry is that many families have had to grief over the painful demise of their relatives and loved ones in such unpleasant situations,’ Mr Asiamah said.
‘While we discuss the road safety situations, we must recognise that the road safety challenge is one largely borne out of our own failures to act proactively and responsibly as Public Agencies in responding to road safety issues quickly with policy and real interventions.’
Mr Asiamah said most of the crashes could have been prevented if road-users had been disciplined and demonstrated responsibility for safe road use practices and compliance with existing road traffic regulations.
He said road safety had become a public health issue and increasingly gaining attention locally and globally due to the rising trends in the loss of lives and injuries through road traffic crashes and the resultant social and economic burden on individuals, families and societies.
Mr Asiamah said the Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and Roads and Highways, had instructed its responsible agencies comprising the NRSC, MTTD, Ghana Highway Authority, and Department of Urban and Feeder Roads to scale up their activities regarding sensitisation, enforcement, and provision of the appropriate road furniture.
He announced that funds have been released from the Road Fund to the NRSC to set up educational and sensitisation programmes.
Currently, six contractors are on site on the Adenta Madina Highway working on the footbridges, lane markings as well as traffic calming installations. The contractors are expected to complete the projects in four months.
Mr Asiamah further told the House that Cabinet had granted approval to the proposal for the NRSC to be transformed into an Authority.
As an Authority, it would have the mandate to regulate or enforce institutional standards for road safety related activities and issue appropriate sanctions for non-compliance.
He said this would be in addition to its current functions of promoting road safety through education, recommendations, advice, collaboration, coordination and liaison.
Under this new mandate, the Authority would be able to exact obedience and sanction breaches of road safety standards.
Mr Samuel George, Member of Parliament for Ningo-Pampram, commended the Government on the Cabinet decision to upgrade the NRSC into an Authority.
He said the transformation would provide the Commission more powers to be able to enforce standards for road safety and sanction organisations that breached the law.
He said the new Authority needed to be well resourced to fight the carnage on the roads.
Mr Samuel Ayeh-Paye, the Chairman of the Roads and Transport Committee, in his contribution, stressed the need for the introduction of other modes of transport since there is pressure on the road transport sector.
He explained that in Ghana the road sector takes about 95 per cent of the transport system, leading to many road crashes.
He said pressure must be offloaded on road transport to other forms of transportation such as railways and aviation to reduce the crashes in the country.