In this episode of the Global Road Safety podcast, Tony Douglas and Nate Hanson speak with Eric Nyame-Baafi, a road safety consultant for the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety in Ghana. Eric discusses Ghana’s initiatives to improve railway and road safety, and the need for public education in this area.
Listen to the Episode
Eric Nyame-Bbaafi says there's a real need to improve road safety in Sub-Saharan Africa. A total of 650 people die on African roads every day, and child road deaths in Africa are twice as high as in other parts of the world.
The African Development Bank estimated that road crashes cost Ghana $288m in 2009, which works out as 1.6% of the country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Eric is working on improving road safety in the country, which would impact the lives of millions of people. He believes the key is a focus on engineering, enforcement, and education.
Ghana's Shift From Road to Rail
Through the Ghana Railway Development Authority, the Ghanaian Government is addressing railway infrastructure. By rehabilitating deteriorated railway lines, they predict a major shift from road to rail will reduce the number of crashes on the roads.
The data shows that a lot of incidents occur at level crossings, so the government is also constructing more overpasses in order to improve safety at the intersections between road and rail. There are plans to repair and upgrade signals at railway crossings and improve traffic flow in these areas.
Improving Ghana's Road Safety To Save Lives
Eric points out that drivers generally welcome the need for improved Road Safety. But for this to happen there needs to be a big change in driver behavior, which is the cause of many crashes in Ghana. He says that education needs to be particularly focused on issues like drink driving and speeding.
There are currently no regulatory authorities overseeing Ghanaian rail and road transportation. Eric suggests that a department for road transportation could have a very positive impact on overall road safety by issuing licenses and certificates for people who want to operate these modes of transport.
He also says that for progress to happen, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and government agencies need to collaborate so they can plan and intervene in order to make road and rail crossings safe for everyone.
Road Deterioration and Traffic Safety
The Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety is testing 750km of project roads in northern Ghana to assess the safety and inform the World Bank Group about road engineering measures that can improve road safety. This helps to rate the safety of cars and commercial vehicles, motorbikes, bicycles, and pedestrians according to the International Road Assessment Program Methodology.
Technology and Training
Education and training are important parts of the plan for increasing road safety in Sub-Saharan Africa. Eric says that while general Internet penetration in Ghana is quite high, it's not so prevalent among the commercial drivers who require education. This means that for these drivers, training and education still needs to prioritize in-person training.
Many companies and inter-city travel organizations welcome this sort of training, recognizing how improving driver safety is important on many levels.
There is potential to use the internet to educate younger people about driver behavior and road safety. This has been shown through initiatives like the Safe Ways Program where school pupils were taught in classrooms, compounds, and practical situations, with an aim to increase road safety awareness. The children involved showed a significant increase in knowledge compared to the control group.
About Our Guest
Eric Nyame-Baafi, a civil engineer from Ghana, is an active member of the WHO’s Global Road Safety Partnership. He has an extensive background in traffic safety and has focused much of his work on railway and highway safety.
He takes an approach to road safety that is different from many of our guests here on the Global Road Safety Podcast: his focus is on structural changes to remove obstacles to safe driving on the roads in his country. He draws on a background with the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety and the International Road Assessment Program to inform his work in this area.