Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, says students in basic and secondary schools will now be taught Road Safety and related issues as a subject as part of a new curriculum that has been introduced by the Ghana Education Service (GES).
This is a collaborative effort between the National Road Safety Commission and the Ministry of Education on the new subject.
In his address to the participants at the Annual General Meeting of the West Africa Road Safety Organization (WARSO) as the Special Guest of Honour, he noted that road crashes are health related issues, and must be given all the necessary attention that it deserves.
“The United Nations has defined road safety crashes as a health issue. I keep on saying that unfortunately, if somebody contracts HIV, if he takes good care himself, it may take him 20 or 40 years before he dies. But if road accident occurs, about 40 or 50 people may lose their lives. So, road safety issues are not issues that we need to joke with it. So, the National Road Safety Authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Education is coming up with a curriculum to be taught from the primary schools to the Senior High School level for us to educate our people to know more about safety”, he said.
The theme of the event was “Evaluating Road Safety Performance in West Africa under the Decade of Action for Road Safety – 2011 -2020”.
Commenting further, Asiamah said it was important for the Government of Ghana to demonstrate the political will by formulating policies aimed at reducing road crashes.
He said it was also important for member countries to also embark on a well-coordinated and integrated program to address the challenges of road safety in their various jurisdiction.
“Global bench marking for example show that an increase in political will for road safety translate into more advocacy for good behaviour and improvement in resource allocation for road actions. That way, our countries can adopt common approaches that addresses our concerns of vehicular safety, road infrastructure and awareness of all levels of road users. Ghana continues to demonstrate leadership in the road safety management. Our recent rating by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa as the first for the implementation of road safety action plans in Africa provide a catalyst for us to do more including legitimate reforms and budgetary support in the key agencies”, he underscored.
He added that as a demonstration for its commitment, the government realizing the weak institutional role of National Road Safety Commission approved a proposal to transform the Commission into an Authority with an enhanced mandate to ensure compliance road safety measures procedures and guidelines.
“Further, the transformed agency has the mandate to impose sanctions in the form of administrative penalties for non-compliance. These reforms have been carried out by the government to inject new energy into the fight against road traffic crashes”.
Despite the reforms, he said the country is still faced with the challenge pf ‘Okada’ business, stressing that “when we make progress in other areas, cases of motorcycles and tricycles related casualties become a concern to government”, a situation he noted remains a menace in West African countries.
“Let us not all behave like the proverbial ostrich burying our head in the sand and pretend that nothing is happening. There is a problem and we need deal with it”, he advised.
He urged the participants at the conference to network and leverage on the strength of member countries to improve on the reforms they are embarking to address road crashes in their respective countries.
“We must recognize that road safety crashes and its rising fatalities are avoidable and endevour to help deliver on the expectations to make our countries’ roads safely”, he noted.
The Executive Director of the National Road Safety Authority, Ing. Mary Obiri-Yeboah, on her part said through collaboration, all the fifteen-member countries of WARSO have been able to establish lead agencies for road safety and develop strategies for the effective management for the road.
However, she said WARSO still has a very long way to go in the promotion of road safety in the sub-region as it suffers low level implementation of some vital resolutions in member countries.
“Road crashes have been identified as a social economic challenges that runs as one of the most pressing challenges facing most countries in West Africa today. The causes of high accident rate in West African countries and their associated consequences have a significant impact in society which continue to hamper our socio-economic development and impact on our well-being.
This impact is measured in terms of human lives lost, paying, grief and suffering as well as an increase cost to the economy. The extent of problem is exacerbated when road fatalities and serious injuries are seen in the context of economic lost. People injured or killed are largely the breadwinners and contributors to the economy at large”, she noted.
She was confident the number of injuries and fatalities could still be reduced and therefore called for effective collaboration to deal with the challenge at hand.