The issue of public safety on roads is a pressing concern for any country, and Ghana is no exception. However, a troubling trend has emerged in certain communities, where residents resort to obstructing public roads with ropes, chains, or makeshift barriers in an effort to control vehicle speeds.
While their intention may be to enhance safety, this practice poses significant risks and raises questions about appropriate methods for managing road safety.
In several areas, particularly residential neighborhoods and near schools, it has become increasingly common to witness public roads being blocked with ropes. The latest instance has occurred in front of Lekma Hospital in Teshie, highlighting the growing prevalence of this practice. Residents who engage in this behavior express concerns about speeding vehicles posing a threat to pedestrian safety, particularly for children and the elderly.
However, blocking public roads with ropes raises legal concerns as it can be deemed an act of obstruction or trespassing. Should an accident or injury occur, liability issues may arise, as the presence of these barriers could impact fault determination and insurance claims.
Moreover, this practice inflicts damage on the roads themselves, as vehicles passing over the ropes cause them to sink into the pavement, leading to cracks and erosion over time.
According to Ghanaian law, a person who obstructs a public way willfully, impeding the free passage of others or vehicles, commits a criminal offense and may be subject to a fine not exceeding ten penalty units. Similarly, placing objects or leaving items in a public way without the consent of the local authority or the Ghana Highway Authority, resulting in obstruction, danger, or annoyance to road users, is also a punishable offense.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that intentionally depositing carrion, filth, dirt, refuse, or other offensive and unwholesome materials on streets, yards, enclosures, or open spaces in towns is prohibited unless at a designated location assigned by the local authority or health officer.
While concerns about road safety are valid, the method of blocking public roads with ropes is not a legally permissible or effective solution. Authorities and communities should explore alternative measures to address speeding and enhance safety, such as increased traffic enforcement, educational campaigns, speed bumps, or traffic calming measures.
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Ensuring public safety on roads requires a collective effort, involving collaboration between communities, local authorities, and law enforcement agencies. By adopting lawful and effective strategies, Ghana can mitigate the risks posed by speeding vehicles and create a safer environment for all road users.