The Board Chairman of the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), Rev Ismaila Hansmitson Awudu, has said that with the help of the President, the Minister of Transport and Parliament come 2020, the Authority will begin full operation of what is called ‘Institutional Compliance and Sanctions’ under which institutions will be punished for flouting road safety laws.
According to him, the new mandate empowers the NRSA to carry out such sanctions under the new Act, the National Road Safety Authority Act 2019 (Act 993).
Rev. Awudu said the NRSA, with its new mandate, could stop or postpone the commissioning of a road if the Authority sights any violation of safety standards such as poor lightening and absence of footbridge, line markings and other road furniture; and engineering violations which can endanger the lives of road users.
“The era where a major road will be commissioned without footbridges and other safety standards not being adhered to will be a thing of the past because the Authority will begin to operationalise and enforce the institutional compliance clause in ensuring discipline on our roads and engineering-related infractions,” Rev Awudu said.
The Board Chairman, who is the head pastor of International Central Gospel Church, Yahweh Temple, East Legon , said based on this, the NRSA would vigorously be engaging its stakeholders and the general public on its mandate through educational campaign so as to have a harmonised and smooth working relationship in the implementation of the new Act with all its stakeholders.
Speaking exclusively to the DAILY HERITAGE, he said this would be done alongside road safety inspectors who will be appointed by the President under the new Act to go directly on the road, offices and premises of transport operators to inspect their safety standards activities.
Rev. Awudu said the inspectors, with collaboration from the Ghana Standards Authority as part of their mandate, would ensure imported tyres and vehicles themselves meet the standards.
The NRSA and the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service and Driver Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA) will also ensure vehicles on the roads are truly road-worthy-compliant.
“This means that the inspectors have the right to check records of these rickety vehicles with the DVLA [to see] whether they are road-worthy,” he said.
The Board chair said in situations where transport operators and their respective institutions would be found culpable of not obeying these standards after compliance notices had been issued to them, the NRSA has the power to go to court to ensure the standards are complied with or stop these companies from operating until they would comply or be fined under extreme situations.
“In the past, the Authority educated and collaborated with its stakeholders but there was no power to compel [them] so when we are dealing with our stakeholders we only talk to them, and they can choose to listen or not but now we have the power to compel you to act, thanks to Nana Akufo- Addo, hence a Compliant and Inspectorate Department was created under the new Act to ensure that,” he said.
The Board chair said through massive education for the past three years, commercial vehicles road crashes had reduced slightly and the percentage ratio of road crashes and fatality had also moved from double digits to single digits, hovering around 9.2%.
The World Health Organisation reports on Africa road crashes and fatality reduction rate placed Ghana ahead of Nigeria and all the others. This year the West Africa Road Safety Organisation (WARSO) conference was held in Ghana with the main objective of empowering the ECOWAS sub-regional organisation to champion the cause of road safety across member states.
The meeting was also to help find ways to harmonise the database of member states to make them internationally credible in their reportage, automation of road safety activities and the use of driver manifesto among other things.
Also, the NRSA, in collaboration with Shenkani, has successfully inaugurated and carried out the NRSA/Shenkani Drivers Awards, which seeks to help reward drivers for their hard work as part of motivation for work.
The exercise is done across the country and the selection is vigorously monitored and is competitive.
He further said the Authority in the past was bedeviled with human resource weakness but through the NABCO programme, NRSA had 3,000 support workers nationwide whose capacity have been boosted and were making data collection, education, visibility and other activities effective.
“In order to equip our stakeholders, and for the MTTD to ensure effective monitoring and enforcement on our roads, the Authority has purchased some gadgets such as breathalyzers to check the breath of drivers to determine whether one is under the influence of drugs or not, speed guns, both electronic and manual, to control speeding on the road, acrometers to inspect driver behaviour, and reflective jackets to make them visible,” the Board chairman added.
The Board chairman said NRSA, through the Presidential financial support and in collaboration with its stakeholders– DVLA, MTTD, Metropolitan Municipal and District Chief Executive and Ghana Drive, was training about 13,000 drivers across the country on road safety signs, undertaking eye test, doing classroom education and massive checks for road standard requirements, all geared towards safety on the road through best practices.
“After this pilot programme for drivers, it will be mandatory for every driver in the country to go through the training before one’s licence is renewed as stipulated in the LI 2180 or be prepared to lose your licence because there must be sanity in the system,” he said.
He again said the Authority was continuously engaging with MMDAs on how to lighten the road, meet with officials of Ghana Fire Service, the Ambulance Service, Red Cross and NADMO, being the emergency response teams, to collaborate on how to effectively handle accident victims in a more professional way to reduce death rate and also train and educate both drivers and the public on basic emergency response during accidents.
The NRSA, with the help of World Bank, has established accidents first aid response centres on most high accident-prone areas with more to be established next year.
The board chairman said even though the rate of road crashes and fatality had reduced slightly, there continued to be increases in Okada and private car accidents on the road.
“So there is the need to work around Okada usage in the country, hence as part of the review of the LI 2180 on the Okada, the Ministry of Transport and NRSA have engaged stakeholders and the public across the country on the best way possible to address the Okada challenge. The report is being finalised for Cabinet and President’s consideration of the way forward as a country,” he said.
The Authority has also identified the need to regulate road safety ambassadors across the country so that the message becomes clear and coded to achieve the goal, so in view of that certain prominent people in the country are being considered to be decorated as Road Safety Goodwill Ambassadors.
He said already His Eminence Ndin Ya Na Abukari, the Overload of Dagbon has been successfully decorated and unveiled as a Goodwill Ambassador. Mr Joseph Osei Owusu, Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, has also been decorated as a Road Safety Advocate and many others.
He said siting of billboards had also become a road safety concern, so in 2020 the NRSA, in collaboration with the MMDCE and the Advertising Association of Ghana, would ensure that billboards would properly be placed to avoid any danger.
“Mobilisation to site to work by contractors with their materials not properly attended to is also a worry in the road safety space so in 2020, we are going to enforce the work safety zone, in that before a contractor moves to site the work safety zone is in place to avoid human-error accidents throughout the country,” Rev. Awudu noted.
“More so, there will be more engagements with the various political parties come 2020 to educate and advise their rank and file on best ways of safety on our roads as they begin campaigning to avoid road safety violations and casualties on our roads,” he added.
He commended all journalists in the country for supporting the cause of road safety through their various media platforms, especially Citi FM Campaign Against Road indiscipline.
He also called on all Ghanaians to be advocates of road safety in thes festive season and beyond to ensure accident-free celebrations and the periods afterwards.