Saturday, January 05, 2013

Of #Ghanaliving and the latest Menace(s) to Society

"AMA recieves (sic) motorcyle" - From the Accra Metropolitan Assembly  website
The webmaster seems to have forgotten 'I before 'e' except after 'c''
Being back in Accra after an almost 12 month hiatus, I am keenly taking note of changes to the Beacon of African Democracy (BAD) especially since Ghana is the poster child for Africa. One thing that I have noticed that makes Ghana December 2011 very different from Ghana December 2012 is the exponential proliferation in the number of motorcycles on the streets of Accra. I must admit that the first time I actually noticed these motorcycles was when one sped comfortably through a red light almost colliding with oncoming traffic. What surprised me most was the fact that there was a policeman at the junction and not only did his presence not seem to raise much concern with the cyclists but he did not do anything about them speeding through the aforementioned red light. Later on that day, I was amused to be passed by a motorcycle weaving through traffic with a passenger with a goat on his lap....I kid you not....a goat.
Very quickly however, I have come to realize that motorcycles on the streets of Accra appear to be the latest essential ingredients for accidents. Not only do motorcycles weave through traffic and overtake on the left side, they also ignore traffic light rules and not too many riders seem concerned with helmets. I am not only ranting because I met a motorcycle rider on a deserted street in Kokomemle driving on the left side of the road and angrily gesturing for me to shift to the wrong side of the road. I wanted to stop my car and ask the clearly confused man if he had just arrived from the UK and somehow forgotten that we drive on the right side of the road in Ghana but alas, he had sped away at the same dangerous speed at which he had shown up in the first place. So, if any one is reading this, I do have a couple of random questions:

1. Whose brilliant idea was it to allow these dangerous motorcycles to proliferate without being checked?

2. Or am I wrong and is someone actually monitoring these motorcyclists and their dangerous activities?

3. Anyone keeping a count of the number of accidents caused by motorcyclists?

Over to you all.


Sam said...

Well, they are being checked. At least the drivers and the vehicules have to be bribed into legality - like with cars.

My view from the pillion: Motorcyles are affordable and quick even on jammed roads. Most car-drivers are actually not caring about bikes at all (also bicycles).

But basically you're right - lots of motorcyclists are behaving very dangerously.

Abena Serwaa said...

@Sam: thanks for the comment. I can't help but laugh at how you sneaked in: "Bribed into legality - like with cars..." !

I admit that most car drivers do not really pay much attention to the motorbikes and bicycles which is also extremely problematic. There is a little bit of arrogance that the roads belong to cars and no one else...I stand guilty of thinking like that.

Seems this cars vs bikes war is global. In December I watched a really disturbing documentary on BBC1 called the "War on Britain's Roads"

But as you point out, motorcyclists in Ghana are behaving dangerously. Passing through red lights and the overtaking on the right instead of left are just reckless.
Really curious about what the authorities are doing. I am sure the answer is nothing but I'd like to be optimistic!

Sam said...

Indeed there's a global traffic war. I recall several warlike situations I've been in in Switzerland. As a cyclist, I'm basically fighting cars and pedestrians. And sometimes the tracks of the tramway.

btw. Ghana's traffic always amazes me because no one sticks to the rules but it mostly works quite well.