Ghana too can enjoy road safety

Yesterday Ghana hosted in Accra the maiden Kofi Annan Road Safety for Africa Award.
Having its webinar theme as ‘Safer and Cleaner Vehicles in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities in the Second UN Decade of Action for Road Safety (2021-2030)’, the ceremony was organised by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Secretariat of the United-Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, and Ghana’s Ministry of Transport, with the support of the Kofi Annan Foundation.
The Kofi Annan Foundation says the Road Safety Award is named after Mr Annan to honour his legacy and continue his important work in that field.
Mr Annan is said to have brought the issue of road safety and road traffic victims to the United Nations agenda at the beginning of the 2000s and that generally, his life work was all about prevention – preventing conflicts, hunger, diseases, squalor and all manner of dangers.
The organisers say at the centre of the initiative is making the efforts of bringing on board all stakeholders to ensure safety on Africa’s roads.
Thus the primary objective of the Award is to motivate key stakeholders being governments, the private sector, and civil society organisations, to develop and implement innovative and outstanding initiatives to save lives on Africa’s roads.
Information gathered from some sources, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), has it that when it comes to road accidents, Africa pays the heaviest fatality price 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.
WHO states, for instance that a child in Africa is twice as likely to die on the road than a child in any other part of the world, which makes it crucial to redouble efforts on the African continent to ensure sanity on the road.
A 2016 WHO report contains the damning assertion thatGhana is among the countries that report a high prevalence of road traffic deaths, with 24.9 per 100,000 inhabitants and that nearly 2,000 lives are lost in the country each year due to crashes – and pedestrians are particularly at risk.
This is confirmed with a Ghana Police Service report released this year that 2,921 people died and 13,048 injured in road crashes in 2021 and that from December 24, 2021 to January 1, this year, a space of just nine days, 43 people died while 202 got injured in road accidents.
Even without going to the police, Ghanaian Times reports from January 5 to March 15, this year show a total of 54 deaths and over 200 injuries from road crashes.
The Executive Secretary of ECA, Ms Vera Songwe, has stated that road crashes cost African economies up to five percent of GDP, crippling its potential growth.
Taking Ghana as a specific case, Altmetric.com states that Ghana “wastes” more than 1.2 trillion cedis (€94 million, US$128 million) annually on road-traffic injuries, which is 1.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)per annum.
No one should be faulted for wondering why a maiden road safety event concerning the whole of Africa would not be held in Equatorial Guinea or Mauritius,for instance, where road safety is lauded but in Ghana, a country with very poor road safety record and at a time the carnage on its roads keeps rising.
This must not be far-fetched because the man in whose honour the awards were organised hailed from this land of gold which has failed to make its road safety golden.
In fact, considering the high numbers of fatalities and injuries from road crashes in Ghana, it seems inappropriate to have such an awards event here, and more so, at a time when nothing serious seems to be done in the country to check the brutish behaviour on its roads.
However, upon second thought, the Ghanaian Times believes that the event can trigger a change in the form of the country putting its act together to turn the tide to ensure safety and reduce or eradicate the carnage on its roads.

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