Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement which highlights the spate of indiscipline that has bedevilled our road transportation system and other general acts of indiscipline that have characterised our society.
In recent times, the country has experienced a number of road accidents that have claimed the precious lives of our citizens. I do not intend to go into any details here as we are all aware of what is happening and my Colleague, the hon. Member for Oforikrom (hon. Dr. Elizabeth Agyemang) provided this House with vivid examples some days ago.
Mr. Speaker, several factors have been assigned as contributing to this state of affairs, which include the poor nature of our roads, drunkenness on the part of drivers, overloading of vehicles, over- speeding, incompetence of drivers, poor state of imported second-hand vehicles and poor maintenance of such vehicles among others.
Mr. Speaker, these factors come in handy when one speaks about road accidents in the country. However, Mr. Speaker, there are some other contri- butory factors which seem to be eluding our concern. Some drivers deliberately refuse to stop when the traffic light shows red. These drivers speed unnecessarily as a way of beating the light. Mr. Speaker, this offence might not seem very serious but the consequences thereof are often most bizarre.
Some other drivers have scant regard for pedestrians and do not slow down or stop to allow pedestrians to cross at zebra crossings. Mr. Speaker, many pedestrians have been knocked down because of such indiscipline.
Yet some other drivers elect to drive at the shoulders of the road when traffic is not moving at the rate they expect. On almost daily basis, these motorists run down unsuspecting pedestrians, bicycle or motorcycle riders and hawkers eking out a living by the roadside.
Objects are flung out of moving vehicles. This poses risk not only to people standing at the road side but also to both oncoming as well as following vehicles. This act in particular has become a routine and it is carried out with such reckless abandon as if it is anybody's business.
Mr. Speaker, given the high level of incidence, I wish to recommend the establishment of road traffic courts at both the regional and district levels.
Mr. Speaker, for a start, at least, three (3) of such courts should be established in each region. These courts will have the responsibility to try all cases involving traffic offences only.
The areas of jurisdiction of these courts should be properly defined. In my opinion, this will reduce the number of traffic offence cases pending before our courts
and also ensure quick and prompt disposal of traffic cases.
May I further propose that police officers of certain ranks at the various MTTUs should be empowered to impose on-the-spot fines not exceeding a certain fixed sum on offending drivers and passengers. This will ensure that only major traffic offences will get to the law courts.
Whenever on-the-spot fines are imposed, the police officer shall have the vehicle impounded and the licence of the driver taken from him until the fine had been paid into a designated bank account and a receipt obtained. The said vehicle shall only be released upon showing the receipt to the police officer. Pursuant to this, the MTTUs should be adequately resourced.
This enterprise is self-sustaining and it is important to device a scheme to recoup the cost of providing resources to get the project started. A practical approach would be to give the Police MTTU personnel a monthly quota of tickets, say 50, with the face value ranging between say, ¢50,000 and ¢500,000 issuable to offending drivers depending on the gravity of the offence and the frequency of occurrence. Amounts collected are lodged in a designated bank account on daily basis and receipted.
The potential from this endeavour is profound and beyond what is needed to be ploughed back to further improve the system. Excess amounts collected could be channelled into improving the road system.
Mr. Speaker, the proposed on-the-spot fines should also be extended and made applicable to people who defecate and/or urinate, or throw refuse at unauthorized places.