Transport Minister Kweku Ofori Asiamah is expected in Parliament to explain the steps he is taking to reduce fatalities on the country’s highways following media reports of an escalation.
First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, presiding over Tuesday’s sitting gave the Minister 14 days to present his strategy to the House.
The summon follows statements by many MPs on road accidents including those on what is emerging as Accra’s most deadly highway – the Madina-Adentan N1 Highway where194 lives were crushed to death in the last 308 days.
Photo: Google street view of a portion of the Madina-Adentan highway.
There are fears there could be some 35 more deaths on that highway by the end of 2018 if it is not made pedestrian-friendly.
Madina, a suburb of Accra contributes nearly 112,000 residents while Adentan adds 78,215 more. The road (now described as the most dangerous in the country) is between these two communities with a total population of 190,131.
The highway with a 100km/hr speed limit is situated in a busy business district, two highly-populated senior high schools – Presbyterian Boys Senior High School (PRESEC), Legon and West Africa Senior High School (SHS) and the biggest public university in Ghana, the University of Ghana.
Setting the tone for MPs to have a bite of the topical issues in the media, New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Ledzokuku in the Greater Accra Region, Dr. Oko Boye, picked out the Gomoa Buduburam road on the Accra-Cape Coast highway where “our son and brother” an MP George Andah nearly lost his life.
Photo: What is left of the minister’s V8 vehicle.
And then he mentioned how six others were not as lucky as the MP and Deputy Communications minister.
They died after a Sprinter bus tried to overtake a number of cars but burst a tyre in his need for speed on the Gomoa stretch of the Accra-Cape Coast highway last Sunday. He crashed the passenger vehicle into an onrushing Toyota Corolla.
The MP who is Board Chair of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra where a new Accident and Emergency Unit was unveiled last July called for ‘aggressive prosecution of drivers’.
Photo: Sprinter bus involved in Sunday’s accident at Gomoa in the Central region.
Perhaps one can say Parliament is a collaborator to the road carnage. It passed a 2008 amendment to the 2004 Road Traffic Act that reduced penalties for motor traffic offences by about 90%.
A drunkard driver in 2004 would have paid a fine of ¢6,000, but after 2008, he could walk away by paying ¢600 – a few days’ sales for a bus driver in Accra.
The NPP MP had a new idea. He said naming and shaming would help if every capital city named the most dangerous driver of the month – an ignominious award to deter them.
Photo: NPP MP for Ledzokuku in the Greater Accra region, Dr. Ooko Boye
And then, the MP got to the carnage on the Madina-Adenta highway.
He said “the blood of our brothers and sisters continue to speak not curses on us” but promptings to fix footbridges.
There are no confirmations of curses of departed relatives but there have been several cursing comments from angry residents.
The NPP MPs’ two-page statement got commentary from National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Adaklu in the Volta region, Kwame Agbodza, who waxed lyrically about the responsibilities of the state to ensure safe roads and that of drivers to drive carefully.
NDC MP for Ningo-Prampram in the Greater Accra region, Sam George would call attention to the “gullies” on the highways and take his seat.
The Deputy Speaker after calling for some order directed the Transport minister Kweku Ofori Asiamah to appear before the House.
The last minister to be summoned to Parliament was the Communications minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, over the controversial $89 Kelni GVG deal.
It became a highly politicized encounter in Parliament. Before her, ministers at the Defence and Interior ministries have all appeared before Parliament.
Parliament can sanction a minister including passing a vote of censure which could lead to the loss of his job. Many ministers have been summoned over topical national challenges but Parliament has not come close to using its powers.
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