It was a late Saturday afternoon. I was returning from a funeral somewhere in the Central Region.
As I inched closer to Budumburam, the traffic intensified. I stayed patiently in the traffic knowing that there was no other alternative.
As I wormed my way, I noticed that from time to time a V8 with its siren activated would come with top speed and pass as if there was an emergency. In the process, it would create a new lane and push oncoming road users to the shoulder of the road or wherever.
This scenario would repeat itself in a couple of minutes.
As I stayed in the seeming static traffic, I couldn’t help but ask myself a few questions.
When did this one also start? Is the V8 now above our traffic regulations? Could this be one of the reasons why everybody wants to become a politician? Are government officials and people in authority not supposed to be even more law-abiding?
How do we stop this national embarrassment?
The result was that with time, other motorists who had remained disciplined and stayed in the traffic also began to look for ways of getting out of the traffic.
What resulted was total mayhem and the only vehicles which could move were the V8s and similar types.
To cut a long story short, it took us about two hours to cover a distance that ordinarily should have taken some 20 minutes.
Later in discussions with some office colleagues, I got to know that it was standard practice and that it was even worse on the Dawhenya-Tema motorway roundabout and the Achimota-Nsawam stretch.
What’s the mind of a V8 driver
Most people using these cars are the responsible and affluent in society.
One would have expected that they would exhibit a better sense of judgement under such circumstances, but regrettably that is not what we see.
Perhaps they cannot bring themselves to be in the same queue with the ordinary citizenry.
To absolve themselves of being an accomplice, the big man pretends to be dozing off at the back though he would have given the driver specific instructions on what to do at gridlocked areas.
Cause of accidents
In some cases, such unconventional driving has resulted in accidents and the potential for more accidents, if not checked, is very real.
The users of such vehicles hardly care! In most cases, the vehicles will be replaced within the shortest possible time should an accident occur.
They are also assured of the best medical care home and abroad should it become necessary. The only one who loses out, as usual, is the poor Ghanaian taxpayer who must always sweat to provide for the comfort of these elite.
Role of police
The role of the police in ensuring sanity on our roads is critical. However, knowing that these vehicles are used by the social and political elite, they are hesitant to bring them to order.
An occasional cosmetic exercise in front of television cameras has been the routine.
In any case, the terrific speed at which drivers of these vehicles move does not give the police a dog’s chance.
In certain instances, some of them have been knocked down by such speeding vehicles. A case in point is what happened on the Dawhenya stretch barely a week ago when a policeman was killed by one such guilty driver.
For now, the police have resorted to public education. This is laudable and we must commend them for the bold initiative, though it does not appear to be working. There is, therefore, the need for a more drastic and proactive approach.
As a first step, all vehicles which have fixed such devices should be arrested and the devices confiscated.
This is necessary because without the device, the temptation to use it will not be there.
Above all, the police should be given the political clout to undertake this exercise without fear or favour.
The law is clear on vehicles which can use these devices and for once we should let the law take its course.
If it will take the arrest and prosecution of a few big men with this habit to bring some sanity into this aspect of our traffic culture, so be it. We don’t have first and second-class citizens.
Using your tax money to buy a V8 for a compatriot while you commute by a ‘trotro’ in an ever unending traffic can break any person but it gets even worse when such beneficiaries treat you with contempt and disrespect as they drive about with impunity.
In the process, they put other road users in harm’s way. If the roads are clogged let us open them up for the benefit of us all.
After all, nobody is destined to remain in traffic as others zoom past. We are all Ghanaians!
Columnist: Doreen Hammond