The National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) has protested the decision of the Ghana Police Service to suspend the inspection of drivers’ license and other vehicle documentations on the roads across the country.
According to the commission, the decision could have dire consequences on road safety in the country.
In a leaked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Commissioner of Police (COP) Ransford Moses Ninson, the Director General, Administration of the police directed that all motor checks in the country were suspended with immediate effect.
“MTTD (Motor Traffic and Transport Directorate) personnel are to be used only for traffic management duties”, the MoU stated.
Regional, Divisional, District and Unit Commanders, the memo added are to ensure that “no permits are issued for motor check duties.
“The highway patrol units are only to check for arms (or) ammunitions and drugs. No vehicle documents and drivers licenses are to be inspected by highway patrol personnel”, the memo stressed urging personnel to treat the directive with urgency”.
The police, following criticisms of the directive, however, explained that the decision was an operational strategy and would not negatively affect sanity on the roads.
But Executive Director of the NRSC, Mrs. May Obiri-Yeboah, speaking an interview with The Ghanaian Times yesterday in Accra, said the police directive was inimical to efforts underway to reduce carnage on roads in Ghana.
Ghana, she said, has already failed to meet its target for the year and allowing a free-for-all situation on the roads would further worsen the situation.
In her view, the directive was ill-timed as the general election approaches and the busy Christmas festive close times when the country records more road accidents.
She said though the police was under no obligation to inform the NRSC on its internal decisions, it would have been proper for them to have been consulted, as the agency tasked to ensure road safety, on how best such directives could have been handled to avert calamity on the roads.
As part of the 10 year strategic plan (2011 – 2021) to reduce road crushes, the NRSC boss said, the target was to ensure that not more than 1440 people lost their lives in road accidents for the year.
However, as at the end of September, 1,579 road accident related deaths, has been recorded a surge in the previous year’s figures.
“For us as a commission, we think that if the police are off the road, that is when people misbehave. The presence of the police alone puts fear into road users to do the right thing.
“Now that they are not supposed to check anything, it opens the flood gate for unqualified people to jump behind steering wheels to drive because they would have been aware that they won’t be checked,” Mrs. Obiri-Yeboah observed.
Unaware of why the police gave that directive, Mrs. Obiri-Yeboah said, the decision ought to be reviewed in order not to endanger the lives of road users.
“This is very risky” she noted adding that “if possible; the NRSC will appeal that they would rescind that decision so that we get our men on the road to support us.
“We can do all the education but if we don’t get enforcement, our efforts will yield no results.”
By Julius Yao Petetsi