Wednesday, September 10, 2008


SOMETHING dangerous has been going on in Kumasi that one cannot just gloss over.
Particularly, I am referring to the way bicycles and motorbike riders misconduct themselves on the roads at the risk of their own lives and those of unsuspecting pedestrains.
The negative practice goes on in almost every place in the metropolis, especially in such areas as Asawasi, Aboabo, Alabar, Tafo, Sepe, among others, where it is quite predominant.
Quite surprisingly, a number of people erroneously point fingers at drivers when an issue of road safety crops up for discussion. Discussants tend to forget that motorbike and bicycle riders and indeed, all other road users, have a role to play in maintaining effective road safety.
At times, I ask myself whether the law enforcement agencies in the metropolis are up to the task before them. They seem to be overwhelmed by the situation. This is so because even when the police personnel are around, these riders still do their own thing by riding recklessly on the roads.
Many of the motorbikes on the roads are, however, not licensed, yet people use them for all manner of activities in the Kumasi metropolis. Young men are always found without crash helmets on their motorbikes, and so one can imagine the kind of risk associated with this deadly practice.
It is also a common spectacle to find three people or more without crash helmets on a motorbike, driving at top speed. This has made driving very dangerous in Kumasi because of the way these riders manoeuvre their way through traffic. As a result of this act, a number of riders have been knocked down, resulting in deaths or serious injuries.
With the electioneering heating up, you can trust these miscreants to continue to do their own thing. At least, I have witnessed three of such occasions during visits to the city by Nana Akufo-Addo and Professor John Atta Mills.
The National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) office in Kumasi has persistently indicated that there is an increase in accidents involving motorbike riders in the city, and stressed the need for them to strictly observe road safety laws and regulations. Yet, it seems, not much has come out of this clarion call.
At a recent educational programme organised by the NRSC, the Ashanti Regional Co-ordinator of NRSC, Mr Kwaku Oware Boateng, warned that motorbike and bicycle riders would not be spared if they went contrary to the existing rules and regulations.
Mr Boateng and his team have, therefore, risen up against any suspected motorbike in every corner of the city because he believes that the riders are a real threat to safety on the roads.
I presume Mr Boateng was talking about arrests and prosecutions when he issued the warning to the riders. But it remains to be seen if the threat could be carried out because of the history behind the arrests of riders. They will be arrested, but prosecution is most often a remote consideration.
Surely, the NRSC should keep to its words because it is difficult to understand why riders would fail to stop at traffic lights when the red lights are on, or even refuse to obey road signs.
Unfortunately, some armed robbers and other criminals are deep into the practice of using motorbikes in their illicit activities. They ride at top speed to snatch people’s bags, mobile phones and other belongings in broad daylight. Mostly, these motorbike that are used for these nefarious activities are not licensed.
It is, therefore, important for the NRSC to intensify its efforts at controlling the misuse of motorbikes and bicycles in the city to save lives and property.
The regional office of the commission must continue with the educational programme that it has embarked on in the metropolis because of the inherent benefits in it. Perhaps, the time has come for city planners to take another look at the way our streets are constructed.
I have never been to Tamale, but I am told special lanes have been constructed for bicycles to cut down on road accidents. If possible, similar designs must equally be made in Kumasi, especially in areas where human and vehicular traffic is heavy.

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