Elizabeth Ohene writes: Reduced to a wreck on the street

Elizabeth Ohene writes: Reduced to a wreck on the street
Source: Elizabeth Ohene via Graphiconline.com
Date: 23-05-2019 Time: 07:05:17:am
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I have it on good authority that the biggest number of people arriving at Accident and Emergency departments in all hospitals and clinics in the country are motorbike riders and those they have been in contact with.

They are dying, they are getting maimed, they are clogging the hospital beds, they are costing all of us a lot of money and we are losing a large number of young people that would be expected to be in charge of Ghana tomorrow.

Everybody knows the story of the motorbikes on our roads. It is the subject of conversation every day and of numerous articles and our radio stations regularly run campaigns about it.

Police swoops and reckless riders

Even the police get in on the act, every once in a while; I haven’t seen a report recently but it used to be quite regular that you read about the police swooping on unlicensed motorbike riders and arresting them and you would see hundreds of seized motorbikes, parked in the yard at police stations.

Those who ride motorbikes on the roads seem to believe they are entitled to break every law to get them quickly to wherever they want to get to.

I have been told that laws work only when society can count on between 70 to 80 per cent of the people instinctively obeying them.

Once you have more than 20 per cent of the people disregarding a particular law, we can take it, that law might just as well not exist.


Motorbike riders go through red lights, they ride without helmets, none of the traffic rules apply to them.

I am now a nervous wreck every time I am on the road; motorbikes overtake you on both sides and they scratch your car and barely acknowledge the fact, they drive at you against the traffic on the wrong side of the road, they drive on the pavement, they knock down pedestrians, they drive into cars and cars drive into them.

Often the police just look on, sometimes they wave them on and sometimes there are policemen, in uniform, riding these motorbikes.

Surely, if some people do feel that there are advantages in letting these motorbikes continue rampaging on our streets, the situation in the Accident and Emergency departments must make them think of changing their minds.

If the riders don’t mind dying or getting hurt, the pedestrians certainly mind being knocked and this particular car driver minds very much that she is terrorised every time she gets on the road.

How about visitors?

And just in case one is expected to put up with this type of nonsense once you are a Ghanaian, spare a thought for a visitor to our country who emerges from our flood-prone and much-touted Terminal Three and gets into a car and is confronted with these motorbikes.

Such an investor would probably think he had been lured into Ghana just to be killed or maimed on our roads.

Why would anybody want to invest in a country where the welcoming scene is one of chaos and reckless abandon?

I hear that many of these motorbikes are owned by policemen and that is why the riders feel empowered to ignore the laws?

Even if indeed, the police own the motorbikes, would it be such a sign of weakness for them to obey the traffic rules?

There always seems to be many voices raised in defence of people breaking laws because we are told the law-breakers are trying to eke out a living.

I can think of many reasons why it is a great idea for people to own and ride motorbikes. I use courier services to deliver things for me around Accra.

In my constituency, motorbikes are the only way to move around some parts and the polling station executives all want to own motorbikes.

The motorbikes can go where many cars cannot go.

I acknowledge the freedom it gives many people as they are able to move around without waiting for overcrowded buses.

But they must also be bound by the law.

The police must act

I believe those of us who want order on our roads and who want motorbike riders to be reined into the ambit of the law far outnumber those who relish the chaos.

The police have the support of this large majority and they have the responsibility to keep order on the roads.

At the moment, our roads do not feel like there is any rule of law in this country.

I instinctively obey the law, but I feel being pushed to the stage where I might be tempted to ignore a uniformed policeman trying to stop me for whatever reason.

Every time we hear of the police having a crackdown on road users, they seem to think their task is only to stop drivers to ask for “their papers”.

Maybe we can have three weeks of the police not asking any driver for papers, but concentrate on bringing motorbike riders into the ambit of the law.

All motorbike riders and their passengers would wear helmets, they would not go through red lights, they would not ride on pavements or against the traffic on the wrong side of the road, they would not ride on both sides of the road and overtake recklessly.

In other words, they would be subjected to the same traffic rules as the rest of us road users.

Other road users are obviously taking a cue from the motorbike riders as there now seems to be such a reluctance to stay in queues in the traffic and people create new lanes at the slightest holdup.

It does not seem to occur to some people that the rules apply to all of us.

We ought to be able to drive on the roads without being reduced to nervous wrecks because of the recklessness of some road users.

Motorbike riders on the roads seem to believe they are entitled to break every law to get them quickly to wherever they want to get to.


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