Executives of the Kumasi Neoplan branch of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) (VIP Station) have appealed to the Ministry of Transport to review directives requiring commercial omnibus vehicles operating in the country to have emergency exit doors.
Nana Kwame Dwubeng and Mr. Ato Mensah, Chairman and First Trustee respectively of the union, have called for an extension of time to enable transport owners and drivers to positively adjust and respond to the directives.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) has asked drivers and owners of commercial buses with one door to create exit routes for their vehicles for compliance by June ending this year.
The directive is intended to ensure maximum protection for passengers, as it is assumed that the current situation puts the lives of commuters in danger and increases the rate of fatalities in the event of an accident.
Nana Dwubeng and Mr. Mensah want the government to set a time frame within which all passenger buses without emergency exit doors would correct the defect.
The union leaders said in an interview with the paper that the policy should have a human face, because, apart from the correction in the provision of the emergency exit doors being expensive, the conversion tends to weaken the buses, since the original body frame is affected.
They pleaded that a time be set for the implementation of the directive, after which buses imported without the specific emergency exit doors would not be allowed into the country.
According to the aggrieved union executives, it cost about GH¢8,000 to provide the exit doors on existing buses, which had been acquired before the directives were issued, and cautioned that the directive should not be seen as a deliberate attempt to exploit transport owners, especially in these hard times when the cost of operation is high even though the union has maintained fares without increase over the last five years.
The petitioners said it would be fair if the existing buses with one door are given a grace period to correct the defection and phase out eventually.
The GPRTU executives also advised the government to embark on public education regarding emergency exit doors to create the necessary awareness to ensure the effective implementation of the directive through the appropriate agencies.
As a result, the union executives have recommended that a meeting of stakeholders in the transport industry be convened, during which all issues, including the issue of over-aged vehicles would be discussed.
Mr. Ato Mensah, on his part, pleaded with the government to be proactive in addressing contributing factors for the spate of road accidents in the country, and stop the carnage on our roads.
According to him, single lanes are noted to have contributed to massive fatal accidents, compared to dual roads.
Talking from a personal point of view, Mr. Mensah said a survey had revealed that accidents occur most on the single lane portions of the Kumasi-Accra, Accra-Takoradi and Accra-Aflao stretches of road than the dual road portions, and appealed to the government to ensure that the roads are safe and worthy to ply on.
He said the police should stop the apathy and enforce road traffic regulations, including overspending and overloading.
First Trustee also recommended that metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) should establish parking lots along the major trunk roads where broken down vehicles could be towed to rid the roads of these vehicles, which often tend to be a major cause of accidents on the roads.
This move, he said, would generate revenue and create employment in their respective districts, while protecting the loss of lives that could have been prevented.
In a related development, Mr. Richard Karikari, Executive Director of Kumasi-based Oli Best Road Safety Organisation, has called for public education on the use of emergency exit doors and the use of hammers thus provided in vehicles in case of an emergency.
According to him, the provision of exit doors should apply to newly-imported buses, after the manufacturers have been given the required specifications, in line with the laws.
He said it is time the Ministry of Transport and DVLA define over-aged cars, and which cars are to be written off.