Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you. Aldous Huxley.
Anytime I am forced to comment about the useless statistics of the number of innocent lives lost in needless and avoidable road accidents, I am reminded of the loss of my first wife, in one such accident at New Jejeti/Asuoso on February 20,1995. It is an experience that is not palatable or pleasant at all.
Definitely we would all die, but to be knocked down dead or be killed in a crash of vehicles, especially where such fatalities are avoidable and arise out of human error or negligence, can never be the ending we should cherish.
That is why we have the collective burden to educate and inform ourselves to appreciate the fact that road accidents and deaths are avoidable and are man-made calamities which are useless, needless and avoidable.
Therefore, whatever it takes to tame the beast in us must be embarked upon with zeal and determination.
Accordingly, I would want to draw attention to the needless slaughter on the George Walker Bush section of the Accra-Tema Motorway Extension. We do not need to cry over spilt milk.
It is a fact that the road runs through a commercially busy area and the population is large. Most fast highways of its nature are far from human settlement.
But, once the road has been built and we all agree it is serving a good purpose, we should do what makes for meaning.
We cannot continue to lose lives on the road as a matter of reality. We should not behave as if there is nothing that could be done and that death will come when it will, when we have the means to control that. Without appearing to play down emotions, especially the sentiments that prompted the spontaneous youth reaction in blocking the road at Lapaz after a school girl had been killed on the road, some of the deaths cannot be blamed on drivers.
What I am saying is that whereas most of our drivers are irresponsible, some of the fatalities that occur on the George Walker Bush Highway cannot be blamed on them.
That is why I have the conviction that there is a collective negligence which endangers all the users of that road, most probably, the different shades of security personnel, from police to militia, drivers and pedestrians as well as hawkers, all contribute to the mess on the road which culminates in those dysfunctional statistics about the number of deaths recorded on the road.
Starting from commentators who always blame policy makers for constructing the road without recourse to public safety, road users who cross the road at will, sometimes under the footbridges, drivers who interpret the yellow light as move past quickly rather than stop, as well as police personnel who drive on the road without respect for all other road users, we all have contributed to the mess.
It is within us to resolve the matter and save lives.
What about my experience on Monday, February 11 at about 7:45 a.m. on the road, at a point adjacent to the Assemblies of God Church, where a police vehicle on the inner lane from Abeka to Apenkwa, ordered an unregistered vehicle on the second lane to stop, unmindful of the traffic following.
The police car stopped and the other car had difficulty moving to the outer lane to park.
How was the police to explain if there had been an accident, when their vehicle suddenly stopped in the inner lane, and wanted the unregistered vehicle to stop on the second lane?
But for the diligence of the vehicles following the police car and the unregistered vehicle, there could have been multiple crashes. It would have been the negligence or irresponsible conduct of a policeman.
People who live along the Achimota-Ofankor road, in times past, had cause to cross the road at will to conduct business, especially around the Achimota Brewery, Mile Seven and Dome junctions. Today it is not possible and they are living with it.
One may say that it is not easy for them to cross because of the nature of the road. The same cannot be said of the George Bush Motorway. That is why the fencing should be done.
It did not make sense to put in place the Apenkwa-Dimples Junction fencing before that of Apenkwa-Abeka Lapaz. Indeed, the fencing around the Achimota Forest-Dzorwulu portion was not very necessary.
For the purpose of preserving human lives and until such time that enough footbridges are constructed as we lack the technology for underground crossing, which is more convenient and safer, we have to act individually and collectively to avoid the needless accidents.
Primarily, pedestrians must cross the road at designated points, at the traffic lights intersections or use the footbridges. In using the traffic lights intersections, they must be educated to appreciate the workings of the traffic lights. It is most unfortunate that even when the lights are green or allowing vehicles to turn at intersections, pedestrians are in haste, sacrificing safety for convenience to cross, and sometimes the security personnel are of no help.
My lay understanding of the yellow markings at the intersections is that those points must at all times be clear.
Those are not the arena for vehicles to buy time and cross at the change of the traffic lights, yet, you see security personnel, encouraging drivers to move on to park at those portions, causing much inconvenience to those whose turn it is to move on.
For drivers, it must be understood that, there is only one lane for those who are turning at the intersections, yet, most of them deliberately occupy a second lane and jump the queue with the least opportunity.
The bad thing about this is that some of these occur in the presence of security personnel and if you try drawing their attention to the anomaly, it seems as if you are a pain to them.
My appeal to ACP A. Awuni, the Commander of the Police Motor Traffic and Transport Unit is that, his men and women, together with the other political security operatives in blue or green, must endeavour to ensure and promote proper road safety on the N1 Highway.
If the security operatives, under the police, take their obligations serious and begin to arrest offenders, especially drivers and motor riders, we will not only guarantee safety, but raise revenue.
In sum, my point is that our collective negligence has created the murders on that section of road and it demands our collective action to promote safety on that same road.