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The government will, by the amendment of the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012, introduce a new compulsory towing service policy for all drivers and vehicle owners as part of efforts to stem the recent spate of road crashes in the country.
The proposed amendment of Section 102(3) of the Road Traffic Regulations will compel owners of motor vehicles or trailers to “subscribe to the services and terms of conditions of a towing service provider or an insurance company”, which will be responsible for the immediate removal of the motor vehicle or trailer whenever it breaks down on the road.
Accidents caused by abandoned breakdown vehicles, especially on trunk roads, are commonplace in Ghana and contribute significantly to the monstrous menace.
Recent statistics provided by the Motor Transport and Traffic Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service indicate that 11,585 road crashes involving 20,225 vehicles were recorded between January and September this year.
Sadly, the accidents resulted in 2,126 fatalities and 11,659 injuries.
The new policy is, therefore, seeking to improve safety on the roads.
The amendment was announced and debated on at the national consultative forum on road traffic crashes and review of the Road Traffic Act, 2004 (Act 683) and Regulations 2012, L.I. 2180 organised by the Ministry of Transport in Accra.
The purpose was to review sections of the Road Traffic Regulations 2012, discuss and address implementation challenges, evaluate the significance of some of the regulations and incorporate new and emerging systems in the management of the road transport industry.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), the MTTD, some transport unions, commercial and private drivers, civil society organisations (CSOs), the media, among several stakeholders, were present, either online or in-person, to partake in the forum.
Other affected portions of the regulations to look at include Section 80, which talks about the fitting of retro-reflectors; Section 101, which touches on the driving of a vehicle; Section 127, which deals with the issuance of commercial vehicle licences, and Section 128, which prohibits the use of motorcycles or tricycles for commercial purposes.
The Minister of Transport, Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, who addressed the forum, indicated that the DVLA was collaborating closely with major stakeholders, such as the National Insurance Commission, the Ghana Police Service, the NRSA and the courts, to institute various systems to improve road safety.
“We are also collaborating with the Ministry of Communications to introduce guidelines for the safe operations of motorcycles used for courier services in the country.
“Everyone of us has a share of the responsibility to make our transport system safer – policy makers, regulators, drivers, pedestrians, vehicle owners and passengers,”
Mr Asiamah said.
Alluding to road crash statistics, the Transport Minister expressed disquiet over the youthfulness of the victims, suggesting that the phenomenon was robbing the country of its vibrant human resource.
“The people who are contributing to the development of this country are dying through unnecessary accidents on our roads.
“If one person dies through a road accident which is preventable and we could not prevent it, I think it is an indictment on all of us. It is not about the numbers; it is about the error that we are committing and killing our youth,” Mr Asiamah lamented.
In spite of the countless measures instituted by successive governments over the years, he said, the challenges still persisted.
The minister said some of the provisions of the regulations needed to be reviewed and enhanced, where necessary, in the face of some technical and legislative deficiencies and implementation challenges that had emerged.
“It has also become necessary now, more than before, to introduce provisions in line with development trends, changing social norms and values and ensure conformity with international conventions and ECOWAS protocols on road traffic,” Mr Asiamah said.
For her part, the Director-General of the NRSA, Mrs May Obiri-Yeboah, intimated that Ghana’s road traffic profile had reached a crisis point, “so much so that it has become an enduring public health concern”.
In her view, road safety was pressing, hence the compelling need to review the regulatory regime to guide the Road Traffic Act 2004 (Act 683).
“If ever we are to make sustainable progress in protecting the lives of road users, then an obvious point of departure is to re-examine existing regulations and determine how effective and relevant they are to meet our national and broader international obligation.
“The enactment of the National Road Safety Authority Act, 2019 (Act 993) has made it imperative for a review of some sections of the existing regulations,” Mrs Obiri-Yeboah said.