Wednesday, September 3, 2008


INDISCIPLINE is one word I hate because of the negative connotations attached to it.
The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary explains the word indiscipline as, "A lack of control of the behaviour of a group of people".
Recently, while reflecting on the level of indiscipline among drivers in the Kumasi metropolis something struck me.
It was what the Ashanti Regional Commander of the Police Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU), Superintendent James Sarfo-Peprah, said in an interview he granted me. He said to the effect that drivers were making Kumasi ungovernable.
Ungovernable, yes, because when you fail to control drivers in their activities in a populous city like Kumasi one could imagine the state of disorder that would emerge.
"Indiscipline on the part of drivers is on the ascendancy in Kumasi", the MTTU commander said while admitting that the police were finding it difficult to address the situation because of a multiplicity of factors.
What makes many cities tick is their effective traffic management.
Good roads without proper control of traffic will lead to chaos in the whole transport system in cities.
Consequently, authorities in a number of cities take keen interest in devising policies and programmes that would bring sanity into their systems.
But it looks like Kumasi is not one of such cities. Everything seems to be going haywire.
When the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, launched his campaign against indiscipline, many were those who thought it was going to solve a major canker in the society.
However, developments so far points to the campaign failing to achieve its major objectives. At least the activities of drivers in Kumasi are a pointer to this fact.
But no one should blame the Vice President for the failure to achieve his set objectives. Getting the Ghanaian to change from certain behaviours is always a difficult task.
Blatant disregard for road safety regulations is the order of the day in Kumasi. For a city whose strategic position makes it a centre for all manner of vehicles to converge daily, something positive needs to be done to restore normalcy in traffic management.
Some choose to pick and drop passengers anywhere they like. It is an eyesore to see vehicles, especially taxis and trotro vehicles stop right in the middle of the road to pick passengers, much to the discomfort of other road users.
Even in roundabouts and traffic intersections, drivers do their own thing and one can imagine the consequences of such actions.
The most serious part of the city where such activities take place is the central business district. Mention can be made of the road in front of the Unicorn House, the PZ area and the central market road.
These are areas where traffic is already heavy and the negative activities of drivers compound the situation.
Some of the drivers attribute their illegal activities to the fact that the Kejetia Terminal is closed for rehabilitation and that they do not have any loading points.
Driver unions have accused the police and city authorities of bias because they have allowed the Metro Mass Transport to use the roads as loading points while they are arrested when they do the same thing.
It is true that the Kejetia Terminal is being reconditioned but that in no way allows drivers to take the law into their own hands.
Traffic offences like unnecessary parking have the tendency to cause accidents. In fact, Supt Sarfo-Peprah agreed that such activities were a major cause of vehicular knockdowns and other forms of accidents in the metropolis.
Supt Sarfo-Peprah laments the difficulties the police face when they decide to strike by prosecuting offending drivers.
"There are all manner of influential people coming to intervene and at times we are forced to kowtow in order not to step on heavy toes", he said.
Nonetheless, Mr Sarfo-Peprah says the police are going to enforce the rules this time, especially after the reopening of the Kejetia Terminal for use.
The police must be the first to admit that the law is no respector of persons. Therefore, whoever falls foul of the law must be dealt with.

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