Against the backdrop of the high spate of road accidents in the country, Vice-President John Mahama has called for a national debate to determine whether to continue importing second-hand spare parts and tyres for vehicles. The call for a debate comes barely two weeks after he made a passionate appeal to the judiciary and the law enforcement agencies to deal sternly with reckless drivers to serve as a deterrent. Speaking at a sod-cutting ceremony to kick-start the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in Accra yesterday, he said the wide-spread carnage on the roads was unacceptable, and stressed the importance of intensifying the campaign on road safety to reverse the trend. The BRT project, which will cost a total of $90 million, involves expansion of the bridge on the Odaw River, construction of a flyover bridge across the railway line, and the creation of a dedicated route for buses from Kasoa in the Central Region, to the central business district of Accra. It will also comprise the development of a bus terminal and a bus depot at Kasoa and other minor stations along the entire route, construction of new pedestrian bridges to help people to cross the road to and from the Kaneshie market, among other things. The BRT system seeks to reduce travel time along the corridor for commuters, through the provision of exclusive right of way for designated buses. It comes in the wake of poor quality terminals and bus stops, old vehicles which are badly maintained, limited government regulation with a market controlled by unions, long waiting and travel time which has characterised the public transport system. Vice-President Mahama observed that the increasing traffic congestion in Accra and other major cities was becoming a nightmare to motorists and road users, and said the BRT would revolutionarise the transport system in urban centres throughout the country. With the increase in the growth rate of the vehicular population coupled with the congestion on the country's principal arterial roads, he said there was the need to plan the cities properly to avert a "shut down" in the next five to 10 years. "The BRT system is therefore a key intervention to the problem on our roads," he said, stressing that with the BRT, commuters would benefit from less travel time with reduced stress since the buses would be more comfortable. Under BRT, Vice-President Mahama said transport operators would receive support to build their expertise in transport operations. There would also be regulated services and enhanced personal safety and reduction in air pollution from vehicles. Mr. Joe Gidisu, Minister of Roads and Highways said the BRT forms part of the Urban Transport Project whose objectives were to improve mobility in selected metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies through a combination of traffic management measures. He said there were a number of routes that had already been considered for BRT, namely the Accra-Tema Beach road, Tetteh Quarshie Highway-Mallam route, Adenta-Legon-Tetteh Quarshie-37 routes, Nsawam road, Ring Road from Korle-Bu through to La General Hospital junction. Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said the BRT started with six MMDAs but had been increased to 10 since the re-demarcation of assemblies in 2008. It was being implemented in 11 metropolitan and municipal assemblies, eight in the Greater Accra Region, two in the Ashanti Region and one in the Central Region, the minister said. Mr. Ishak Diwan, World Bank Country Director noted that effective transport management was key to sustained socio-economic development. He said the project was being co-financed by the bank and the government of Ghana, with support from Agence Française de Développement and the Global Environmental Facility.
Source: Ghanaian Times