In the days following the December 2016 elections and for a few weeks into 2017, the painful and regular sight of the Toyota Landcruiser popularly called “V8” forcibly overtaking all traffic, with headlights and hazard lights on, horn blaring, bullying and persistently honking other motorists out of the way, driving on the opposite side of the road startling and forcing oncoming traffic out of their way, jumping red lights and among other illegal driving offences, came to a sudden but refreshing and pleasing stop.
Suddenly there was peace and equality on our roads as hundreds of Toyota Landcruiser V8s disappeared from our roads whilst the few that remained sat patiently in traffic like the rest of us. That sanity didn’t last long…. The insidious, revolting, painful sight of the Toyota Landcruiser V8 violating our traffic regulations because its driver and occupants always seem to be in an emergency type hurry is back. It is actually worse….
I’ll cite a few old examples of this cocktail of impunity, arrogance and plain stupidity;
On Sunday 26/3/2107 at 6.08pm V8 No CR-360-15 with horn blaring shoved the few cars ahead of it out of its way, ignored the glowing RED lights near Palace Mall, jumped the RED lights and sped towards the Airport Hills overpass.
On Friday 31/3/2017 at about 5.15p.m, V8 No GN-4651-12 forced its way through rush hour traffic on the Kanda Highway on its way towards the Kawukudi traffic lights. My yelling at the driver that these “were the things Ghanaians voted against” didn’t deter him.
On Sunday 2/4/2017 at 7.45am when there was absolutely no traffic, GE-7277-12 heading towards Papaye from the Baatsona end of the Spintex Road, with headlights on and horn blaring heckled all other motorists out of its way. And the road was empty…
On Sunday 14/4/2017, at 12.45pm when there were only four cars ahead of it at the Regimanuel traffic lights, Spintex Road, GB-5365- tried to push everyone out of its way in an attempt to jump the red lights. Being at the front of the queue, I opened my door and gestured “Where are you going?” to the driver. He aborted his folly.
CR-6660-Z with blue CC diplomatic accreditation which brazenly overtakes all the traffic on Spintex Road every time it uses that road is a law unto its owner’s/occupants’ selfs.
These brazen, unlawful, acts of impunity and disdain are just a few examples of hundreds of traffic infractions committed daily by these miscreant V8 drivers and their arrogant, bullying accomplice/conniving occupants/owners. I don’t need the result of any surveys to safely assert that most of these traffic violating V8 are government owned and in most cases are manned by and assigned to party functionaries now in government positions, government appointees and our fattened senior public servants.
Should the people of Ghana, “citizens” of Ghana assign our vehicles to people to use for their official and personal use, pay for fuel, change tyres and maintain these V8s and be put through and continue to suffer the indignity of this constant belligerence and harassment? We must not! We must immediately demand an immediate end to this disdainful, lawbreaking ‘I’m important, I’m in a hurry, Get out of my way’ canker. They are not entitled to be given way. Resist it! Don’t give them way!
This disease has spread to government departments ferrying workers to and from work in government buses. One particular GRA bus regularly drives on the opposite side of the road in front of the Lands Commission Accra office forcing oncoming traffic out of the way and running the El-Wak traffic lights after close of work. Police vehicles ferrying school kids to school do this as do thousands of other senseless drivers across the capital. This nonsense must be stopped. I will not touch on motorbikes here. That deserves separate treatment.
It is impossible to capture all the infractions V8s commit here, but our Police and our national security apparatus must immediately end the use of blue and white flashing lights installed in the front grills of these cars. Blue and white flashing lights are the preserve of the police and the emergency services. They have been installed illegally, are being used wrongly and unlawfully and are being frivolously abused by all manner of unauthorized persons.
Our Police and national security must stop this practice immediately. These acts of lawlessness are taken to our major highways like the Accra-Cape-Coast road, especially at weekends when V8s brazenly shove other vehicles out of the way, endangering them. Ghana Police please act!
The Chief of Staff, the Minister of Transport, the Police and whoever else has remit in this matter must act immediately to stop this canker, announce that government does not condone these practices, send letters to government institutions warning about these abuses and instruct/empower our ‘Yes Sir, Yes Sir’ traffic police to arrest these miscreants.
Whilst on the matter of the recklessness of V8s I’ll touch on something even more important.
Soon after assuming office as President and during the saga surrounding the alleged disappearance of hundreds of state owned vehicles from the government’s car pool which was said to be affecting work at the Presidency and government in general, President Nana Akufo-Addo declared that the ten year old 7-Series BMW he was using was fit for purpose. He made two important announcements; a.) a ban on the purchase of new vehicles by government and its agencies, and b.) that his government would pool V8 and cross country vehicles.
Two bold, overdue, laudable, sensible, realistic and achievable measures…
These bold decisions should have been seized upon immediately, discussed thoroughly by all ‘stakeholders’ (not the parley parley NRSC, DVLA, Zoomlion/Jospong vehicle towing type of stakeholder engagement), with input from the general public, fleshed out and instituted as government’s policy, Ghana’s government vehicle policy. This was a chance for a real and dramatic change, not only in the judicious use and pooling of V8s, other cross-country vehicles and vehicles in general, but also in the processes governing the acquisition, types, sizes, price limits, specifications, suitability, engine size per class of car, standardization, etc. of our government vehicles.
This great chance has seemingly been shelved or lost and brand new government-owned V8s still pour onto our roads. There seems to be no control, no policy with regard to acquisition of vehicles in this country. We must be prudent in the use of our scarce resources and a policy on the purchase and use of government vehicles is a good starting point.
What measures are those in charge instituting to ensure our state agencies purchase and use vehicles which ‘make sense’? Why are our ministries and government offices parking lots full of these expensive ($100,000.00) V8 vehicles? How can any government ‘big man’, any Minister, Chief Director or head of any state agency, beyond selfish personal aggrandizement justify the use of a US$100,000.00 V8 to commute regularly from Tema, Ofankor, Teshie Nungua, Adenta, East Legon, McCarthy Hill etc to the ministries? Is it prudent? Does it make sense? Will they spend their own cash to buy these behemoths and use them this way? Won’t a $25,000.00 1.8L saloon car do this job perfectly? We need swift, bold, decisive action to end this mindboggling and painful practice.
It is a blot, a scar on our country; a country of educated people, of knowledgeable and well-travelled technocrats, a country of seasoned professionals, a country of intelligent and enlightened people, but a poor country nevertheless, that this abuse of state resources manifest in the purchase and flagrant misuse of huge numbers of these expensive government vehicles persists.
The President’s two-fold declaration on pooling of V8s and the ban on the purchase of new vehicles revealed his mindset. ‘It is NOT going to be business as usual’. The ball was thereby flung into the court of his Chief of Staff, the Minister of Transport, and other stakeholders in the government machinery to grab it and act. They seem not to and most of his subordinates use V8s for their commute to the Flagstaff House, the Ministries etc…
I hope the import of these decisions, like some other bold, profound, intentions, plans and resolutions our President has clearly made; this chance to really act out ‘CHANGE’ is not lost on his ‘business as usual’ lieutenants.