According to citifmonline.com, there have been 70 deaths on the George Walker Bush Highway, also known as N1. The NI was opened in February 2012. So in less than one year, we have had 70 Ghanaian lives lost on one stretch of road. Yes of course we see so many accidents on our roads that it does not seem really strange any longer when one and three and 6 people die. Indeed 24 people are reported to have died on the Tamale-Buipe highway. Add these to the several others, reported and unreported, you see just how many people we have allowed to die as result of irresponsible and careless driving by us, negligent and lackadaisical attitude by our law enforcement people, senseless and avoidable flaws in designs by supposedly smart engineers, and so on and so forth.
I was really upset when I heard the accident involving the young girl on the N1 last Monday January 21. I was particularly not happy with the reaction of the police and the ‘by heart’ way the police commander on the scene spoke as though the inhabitants of Lapaz woke up one fine morning and decided to destroy the road. The police ought to understand how the psychology of a distressed people who have just witnessed a young primary school girl hit into the skies and drop dead on the same car that hit her work. The police should not act as though they are unaware of the series of accidents on the N1 since it was opened, or the incessant cries of residents for a solution to seeing their relatives and neighbours die so often and so needlessly too.
I have heard some people say that we should discourage lawlessness and let due process work. Of course we should. But what should a people do when government and those who should solve their problems pretend they have not seen what is going on nor heard what is being said? We do know that in Ghana our politicians prefer and act quickest when we demonstrate or go on strike. They rarely listen to anyone unless you threaten and follow up with strike action or street protest. I would have joined that spontaneous response if I were close by. Police should know through their Intelligence (that is if they have) that people are increasingly getting inpatient about the lack of action on that road. You should appreciate the circumstance. They simply can’t be there quelling protests alone. They should report what they gather to those who matter. “Massas above, please if you don’t fix the problem on the N1 the people may go on demo ooo” – should be some of the info their ‘intelligence’ should pick up. Policing is not all about muscle. They have brains. They should use them too.
A friend reminded me that you don’t make a highway in an already established residential area and ask the people to go to hell. You make provision for them. That road is not even friendly to the physically challenged and they can’t use the overhead bridge too. Maybe they want them to catapult themselves across. Indeed if the N1 were to have been built in some new development it will be a wee bit pardonable if we ignored a lot of what we are missing now. But no! The communities on either side of the N1 were there decades before we started work on the N1.
Saint Doe Tamakloe, a colleague of mine posted on my wall that “I have driven on that road twice since it opened, the first time, I thought it was still WIP but after the second time, I came home very angry. Our engineers or road safety agencies are just plain stupid or blatantly cruel…more people should rise up for the right thing to be done. At times, I feel we don’t place value on life hence, the laxity in implementing preventive measures for saving life. Look at the Hotel Waa Waa crossing? Why is there no easily accessible footbridge? Sometimes, I’m just tempted to settle for the cliché that ‘our leaders aren’t just using the grey matter’. I am just MAD!”. And so am I. I am mad too. Extremely so. Worse part too is that, they are many more reads being built across the country, and I am left to ask, how can we trust our authorities that they will insist and indeed have the right things done to ensure that the specifications on these roads are sensible?
My attention has also been drawn to the interchange right after my alma-mata, PRESEC. According to Saint Doe, “the side road coming from the PRESEC JSS road to connect to the overhead road towards Zongo Junction, has a very short crawler lane! Someone should look into that soonest before more lives are lost by high speeding cars on the highway running into those trying to join the highway from the PRESEC JSS road, also known as New Road!
It is a bit of a relief to read that there will be four more overhead bridges on the N1. But it is a plan, and I don’t honestly trust my government to fix this soon enough. I won’t be surprised if a lot more blood is shed there before we see this fixed. We failed to use our common sense. We have a chance to redeem ourselves one more time.