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Starr News can report there is a horrifying free-for-all at all intersections in the Upper East region following a wave of damage done to all the region’s traffic-light poles by some road users.
Like a flock without a shepherd, motorists and pedestrians are colliding dangerously with one another, with traffic wardens missing, probably owing to unbearable weather conditions, and some rash road users riding at a daredevil speed across.
The Department of Urban Roads (DUR) has described the rate at which road signals are being crashed everywhere as not just alarming but also as a signal that the number of unskilled motorists in the region may have increased.
Stockpiles of damaged traffic signal equipment could be seen in the yard when Starr News visited the department this week after spotting several traffic-light gadgets and road-sign posts which had been crashed and left either flat or tilted at their various spots in the region. The menace puts road users at risk- especially the lives of thousands of children whose homes and schools are by the roadside.
At least 29 people perished and as many as 82 persons got injured in 99 road crashes involving 165 vehicles in the region within the last 6 months. Checks by Starr News have also revealed that 28 of the 76 streetlights planted between a U-turn junction to the Bolgatanga Estate and a two-way joint at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) have been uprooted with the surviving 48 along that stretch also inconsistent.
“Most of the poles have been crashed. Sometime ago, it could take six months before you would see one road signal being crashed in the region. Today, there are at least two crashes in a week. It could be attributed to unprofessional way of driving. Probably we have quite a high number of unprofessional drivers on the road.
“Now, these tricycles are on the increase. Most of the accidents don’t happen during daytime. That’s the difficulty. Those that happen in broad daylight are just about 20% and those are the ones we, together with the MTTD (Motor Traffic and Transport Department), cause their arrests,” stated the acting Upper East Regional Director of the department, John Stephen Eshun.
Touching on the dangers associated with the rampant crash, Mr. Eshun said: “There are conflicts especially at the junctions in terms of vehicular movements. It’s the traffic lights that are supposed to do the channelisation of the vehicles in order to avert these conflicts. Once the signals are not there, the incidents of accident would definitely be high. There is a need to do a proper rehabilitation and put all the gadgets together so that they can work efficiently.”
Taxpayer’s Gh¢600,000 needed to fix crashed gadgets
At least Gh¢600,000 of the taxpayer’s money is needed to restore the traffic gadgets damaged so far in the region, according to the DUR.
And contractors say the same amount is enough to erect about 6 well-furnished 3-unit classroom blocks in a region where there are still over 300 schools involuntarily having their lessons under trees.
Urban road engineers have called it a serious drain on the country’s resources even as it is unlikely the Ghana Road Fund Secretariat (GRFS) can make that amount of money available today for the needed repairs and rehabilitation.
“Most of our projects as a department are under contracts. The maintenance of traffic signals is more of a specialised area for which a contractor who has been put in charge comes all the way from Accra to do those managements. Sometimes the difficulty is to have a quick response. As the contractor is not around, we as a department go round to pick the remains of the crashed road signal poles at our own cost.
“The budgetary allocations we have are for maintenance; but the crashes often leave us with rehabilitation work- which is a difficult thing to do. Normally, when these crashes happen, we are supposed to surcharge the offender and the MTTD are doing most of the arrests, but about 90% of the crashes happen on our blindside. It has been difficult to use our budgets for total restoration,” the acting director said.
Three more intersections to have traffic lights in Bolga
A man said to have been arrested recently by the MTTD for reportedly crashing his car into a traffic lighting pole at the crossroads to the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) building in Bolgatanga is awaiting a huge bill from contractors responsible for repair and rehabilitation of road signals.
“The pole and everything was crashed. When it happens like that, we have to communicate with the contractor to come and do the assessment and submit a bill. That money would be paid to the contractor to do the replacement. That one is outside our maintenance cost. A similar one happened around the regional police headquarters, by the Fountain Gate Chapel,” Mr. Eshun said.
He further announced that the department would soon install traffic lights at three more intersections in the regional capital to check the conflicts often seen at those spots. The designs, he added, had been done and submitted to the department’s head office in Accra. They include the junctions around the regional headquarters of the Ghana National Fire Service, the Bolgatanga Stadium and the GBC’s URA Radio.
“Those road signals are there for our own benefits and the benefits of our families to avert the occurrences of accidents on our roads. The signals are provided with the taxpayer’s money. We should see it as our own property. Let’s tread cautiously and drive with care. We should always remember that when we crash the road signals we expose ourselves to road crashes. There is always that constraint to reinstate the signals when we crash them.
“We shouldn’t think when they are crashed, the next day we are coming to restore them. We would have wished it would happen that way. But there is always a due process. There should be a budget and even if it’s beyond our budget and we write to our head office they should be able to get money from somewhere before they would give us the green light. Until are these needs are met, it’s always difficult for us to respond as we would have wished. And when it happens like that, we ourselves as the managing department are not happy because it looks as if we don’t care about our responsibility. And that shouldn’t be the case,” the acting director stressed.