A call has been made for the enforcement of the road traffic regulations in the country in order to avoid the negative effects of road traffic congestion on the community, economy, and the individual.
The call was made on the Floor of Parliament on Monday, March 22, 2021 by the Member of Parliament for Kwadaso, Dr. Kingsley Nyarko in a statement he made on the subject titled “The Impact of Traffic Congestion on the Ghanaian Society.
The Kwadaso MP was concerned that though there are rules and regulations to ensure that the effects of road traffic congestions are mitigated, there seems to be a total neglect of the enforcement of the laws for that purpose. He has therefore appealed to the authorities responsible, including the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service to crack the whip and live up to their duties on the roads.
” Mr. Speaker, it appears that our laws find solace in our books: they remain as enactments and are not enforced. Mr. Speaker, respectfully, if we cannot enforce our laws, especially the Road Traffic Regulations 2012 (LI 2180, Clause 117, section 1) which prohibits trading on our roads, then we will be doing our country a huge disservice. I plead with the MTTD to exercise their responsibility by ensuring discipline, safety and the smooth flow of traffic on our roads,” he said.
He defined road traffic congestion in the works of Rahane and Saharkar (2014), as the way the movement of vehicles is delayed by one another because of limited road capacity and also indicated that traffic congestion occurs when the demand for traffic nears or goes beyond the limit or strength of the road network.
It is a common site on Ghana’s road network to see road traffic infractions with careless abandon, especially in the urban centers of the major cities and towns in the country. It is almost a daily scene to see commercial transport vehicles block the smooth flow of traffic just to pick a passenger by the road side and get away with it. In addition to this, the activities of street hawkers and pavement traders among others, culminate into these traffic congestions.
According to Dr. Nyarko, research findings indicate that prolonged road traffic congestion has detrimental effect on the society at large, the economy of the country and the health of the individuals trapped in these stressful conditions in their daily life activities.
“Mr. Speaker, in their study conducted in Accra, Agyapong and Ojo (2018) indicated that bad attitude of drivers, traders, pedestrians, road traﬃc crashes (RTCs) and poor road designs were the main causes of traﬃc congestion in the country. They observed that these lead to decreased sales and productivity and induces stress as well,” he indicated.
Below is the full Statement made on the Floor of Parliament
STATEMENT ON THE IMPACT OF TRAFFIC CONGESTION ON THE GHANAIAN SOCIETY BY HON. DR. KINGSLEY NYARKO, MP, KWADASO
Rt. Hon. Speaker:
Traffic congestion has been a major issue in countries, especially cities and urban areas where commercial activities are concentrated. Traffic congestion, as a result of its debilitating effects on societies, economies and individuals, has received a lot of attention in the literature (Abane, 1993; Rosenbloom, 1978; Andoh, 2014; Litman, 2013; Thomson & Bull, 2002; Dorsamy & Puchooa, 2013). Researchers (e.g., Thomson & Bull, 2002; Abane, 1993; Armah, Yawson, & Pappoe, 2010a, 2010b; Andoh, 2014).), knowing the implications of traffic congestion on society, have devoted resources, time and energy to unravel the antecedents and consequences of traffic congestion in our societies. Mr. Speaker, empirical research and anecdotal reports clearly show that, if nothing is meaningfully done to address the problem, we would be creating an irreparable damage to our country with dire consequences on posterity.
Mr. Speaker, Rahane and Saharkar (2014) have defined traffic congestion as the way the movement of vehicles is delayed by one another because of limited road capacity. Raheem et al. (2015) have indicated that traffic congestion occurs when the demand for traffic nears or goes beyond the limit or strength of the road network. Mr. Speaker, in their study conducted in Accra, Agyapong and Ojo (2018) indicated that bad attitude of drivers, traders, pedestrians, road traﬃc crashes (RTCs) and poor road designs were the main causes of traﬃc congestion in the country. They observed that these lead to decreased sales and productivity and induces stress as well. According to Weisbrod et al. (2001), traffic congestion happens when the number of vehicles using a roadway at the same time and the volume of vehicles on a transportation exceeds the capacity or limit of the system. It could happen at regular periods of time which is predictable or at irregular periods which are usually not predictable. Unpredictable traffic congestion occurs in situations such as bad weather, accidents, ongoing road works among others.
Mr, Speaker, in general, traffic congestion occurs when demand for a roadway is greater than its available capacity at a particular point in time. It might be as a result of a thriving economy where people and goods are moving through a city or suburb within certain times during the day. Mr. Speaker, traffic congestion does not only negatively affect the economy; it also adversely affects the psychosocial well-being of road users by wasting their time, deteriorating their health, increasing their stress levels, delaying their travel time, disorienting their travel time plan, increasing their fuel consumption which also pollutes the air and atmosphere, weakening their vehicles (wear and tear) and reduction in road safety (Muneera, 2018).
Rt. Hon. Speaker, Litman (2013) has observed that when the transportation system collapses due to traffic congestion, the financial planning of the transport system increases because it has to provide mitigating measures such as widening of roads and construction of interchanges for the smooth flow of traffic. Mr. Speaker, permit me to commend our former Presidents, and more especially our current President for building interchanges to ease traffic congestion in some major cities of the country. The major interchanges being built at Pokuase, Tema, Obetsebi Lamptey circle and Tamale by the President Akufo-Addo government will hugely ease the traffic congestion in those areas. It is my expectation that interchanges are built at Anloga junction, Suame roundabout and other parts of the Ashanti region to ease traffic congestion and open up the region for more socio-economic development.
Mr. Speaker, traffic congestion also leads to economic inflation, referred to as an inconvenience and incremental cost that are attributable to the interference among road users. According to Thomson and Bull (2012), traffic congestion costs comprise both internal and external variables where internal or direct cost is brought about by vehicle users whereas the congested environment produces external or social costs. Direct cost is borne by the non-productive activity of road users and consumption of fuel. Social cost, on the other hand, is induced by external elements in the transport system like air and noise pollution and accidents.
Mr. Speaker, permit me to focus on the following consequences of traffic congestion that can adversely affect the country if not timeously addressed: societal consequences, economic consequences and the person/individual consequences.
Mr. Speaker, first is the impact of traffic congestion on society—According to Wang et al. (2009) (cited in Vencataya et al., 2018), the major external costs of transport are traffic congestion and road accidents which oblige transport policy-makers to aim at ameliorating their impacts on society. Their results revealed that traffic congestion affects peoples’ life as they must live their homes very early in the morning and reach home very late in the evening in order to avoid traffic.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, this situation is not different in our country as workers have to resort to this unfortunate practice so that they can report to work on time. Mr. Speaker, Elisonguo (2013) has also observed that “in Dar es Salaam, a lot of students drop out of school, partake in illicit drugs, and involve themselves in sexual activities at their early years because their parents spend a lot more time on the roads than at home as a result of traffic congestion. Traffic congestion also causes accidents due to drivers’ impatience and attempt to get through the congested roads faster than others.”
Rt. Hon. Speaker, during the yuletide in the Ashanti region, specifically between 24th and 26th December, 2016, a total of 30 road accidents were recorded as against 42 in 2019 (MTTD, Kumasi). Although there was a reduction in the cases reported, which is encouraging, it is still worrying since a soul lost is a cost to the nation. Mr. Speaker, I have attached the detailed statistics to the statement. It captures among others, the fatality and seriousness of the accidents as well as deaths of the victims.
Mr. Speaker, second is the impact of traffic congestion on the economy—Several studies (e.g., Lu et al., 2009; Baffour, 2010) have established a strong relationship between transportation and productivity in that a well-established transportation system promotes economic development. However, Eddington (2006) avers that traffic congestion brings about cost to a country’s economy. In a study titled, “White Paper #1: The Negative Effects of Traffic Congestion to the Twin Cities and Minnesota (2020), it was estimated that the cost of congestion to the twin cities metropolitan area is $2.6 billion annually. The breakdown is as follows: commuter costs (lost time and wasted fuel–$2,078,000,000; safety costs (crash cost–$50,000,000) freight cost (lost time and wasted fuel—$217,000,000); environmental and public health costs–$225,000,000. Mr. Speaker, again, Elisonguo (2013) indicated that traffic congestion leads to late arrival to work, decline output, missed deliveries, low productivity, and decreased economic growth.
In addition, Mr. Speaker, (Choi et al., 2013 & Elisonguo, 2013) argue that fuel consumption and depreciation of vehicles increase due to traffic congestion which make commuters spend a lot of money on fuel. Businesses that thrive on just-in-time mode of deliveries are susceptible to traffic congestion since it is difficult to efficiently make just-in-time deliveries, which invariably has a negative effect on productivity and competitiveness (May & Marsden, 2010; Raheem et al., 2015).
Mr. Speaker, third is the impact of traffic congestion on the person/individual—A plethora of literature has shown that traffic congestion contributes to the aggravation of environmental conditions, including air pollution. Some researchers (e.g., Chakrabartty & Gupta, 2014; Elisonguo, 2013) have claimed that vehicular exhalations, triggered by traffic congestion, are the main causes of air pollution. The results also revealed that accidents put the lives of commuters in peril. Again, commuters suffering from asthma or other respiratory illnesses are more likely to be predisposed to other risky diseases emanating from vehicular exhalations due to traffic congestions.
Mr. Speaker, spending a lot of time in traffic has severe negative psychological consequences for passengers and drivers on our roads. The most profound psychological problem is the experience of stress which has both short-and long-term consequences on productivity and the general wellbeing of the citizenry. Several studies have established that traffic congestion induces a high level of stress and frustration in commuters, especially drivers, as they are required to be more attentive and focused while driving in challenging conditions. Mr. Speaker, Agyapong and Ojo (2018) in their study observed that the experience of traffic-induced stress is a major challenge.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, prolonged exposure to stress from traffic congestion is found to induce depressive and anxiety symptoms (Morris & Hirsch, 2016; Turner et al.,1995). The consequences of traffic congestion such as loss of income, missing important appointments and other relevant engagements which serve as major stressors could lead to depression and anxiety. For instance, missing an important appointment due to prolong traffic congestion could trigger anxiety and depressive symptoms which could lead to poor overall physical and psychological wellbeing.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, stress from traffic congestion results in frustration which is likely to trigger aggression. This aggression may inadvertently result in traffic accidents as commuters may be impatient in their attempts to manoeuvre their way to their destinations. The effects of this prolong stress from traffic congestions are not limited to the road users but extends to families at home (Nadrian et al., 2019). Mr. Speaker, empirical evidence from Western countries have linked traffic congestion to family discords and crimes, most especially domestic violence (Beland & Brent, 2018). This is because frustration from being in traffic more than necessary could arouse the emotional sensitivities of the individual leading to displaced aggression.
Mr, Speaker, in my constituency, Kwadaso, due to the ongoing road construction on the Tanoso-Abuakwa road, there is a severe traffic congestion from Apatrapa junction through Tanoso to Abuakwa that has necessitated and encouraged petty trading on the road. The trading activities that involved mostly teenagers, young children and women are not only worrying (e.g., the likelihood of the children dropping out of school; absenting themselves from school; likely poor academic outcomes), but put their lives in harm’s way because they are more prone to the consequences of traffic congestion such as accidents, diseases and deaths. This worrying situation, Mr. Speaker, is found in most suburbs in the Ashanti region and the country as a whole. We need to find an antidote to it.
Mr. Speaker, to avoid the negative consequences of traffic congestion in the country, well planned interventions based on evidence need to be put in place. One of the key recommendations to avoid traffic congestions in our country, particularly urban centres is the use of effective public transport system (with a dedicated lane) which can serve as means of transport for workers to avoid the use of personal vehicles to and from work every day.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, evidence in developed countries where effective public transport system works shows less traffic induced psychological distress among commuters compared to the use of personal vehicles (Legrain, Eluru, & El-Geneidy, 2015). Secondly, decentralization of our political, business and economic activities to the various parts of the country could be useful. This is because most businesses, economic and socio-political activities are centred in few urban centres which contribute mostly to traffic congestions. Thirdly, if we cannot prevent traders from selling on our roads (Road Traffic Regulations 2012 (LI 2180, Clause 117, section 1) prohibits that), we should find dedicated points on our roads where vehicles can conveniently park and allow passengers to buy some items (Road Traffic Regulations 2012 (LI 2180, Clause 117, Section 2) in order to promote smooth vehicular passage on our roads. Fourthly, Mr. Speaker is dualization of our inner city roads to facilitate smooth flow of traffic. Mr. Speaker, finally, is the need to intensify education on the dangers of indiscipline, impatience and lawlessness on our roads leading to traffic congestion. Relevant State institutions such as National Centre for Civic Education (NCCE), Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) and National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) should do more in educating the citizenry and road users to be mindful of their safety on the road and the consequences of their actions on other road users.
In conclusion, Rt. Hon. Speaker, analysing the issues above, it is abundantly clear that looking at the egregious consequences of traffic congestion on society, economy and the person, we need to do all in our power to mitigate it, or if possible, remove it in order to ensure free flow of traffic and its positive impacts on our society, economy and the individual. Mr. Speaker, it appears that our laws find solace in our books: they remain as enactments and are not enforced. Mr. Speaker, respectfully, if we cannot enforce our laws, especially the Road Traffic Regulations 2012 (LI 2180, Clause 117, section 1) which prohibits trading on our roads, then we will be doing our country a huge disservice. I plead with the MTTD to exercise their responsibility by ensuring discipline, safety and the smooth flow of traffic on our roads. Rt. Hon. Speaker, I am eternally grateful to you for this unique opportunity provided me to make this statement.
Source: Clement Akoloh||parliamentnews360.com