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General News
Sale of alcohol at lorry parks - Accra, Kumasi top 1/17/2007
Accra, Jan. 16, GNA - In spite of the ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages at lorry parks by the Ghana Police about two years ago, the practice rather seems to be on the increase with more drinking spots springing up at transport terminals.

Investigations by the Ghana News Agency across the country indicated that the directive had neither been carried complied with by those affected or enforced by the Police so drinking bar operators continue their business with new ones being established at the lorry parks. The directive was to curb the increasing rate of road accidents many of which were attributed to human error. It was also part of general safety measures to curtail the spate of drunken=96driving.

The GNA investigations revealed that while in a few instances there had been compliance in many instances it had not been complied with. The nation''s capital Accra being the hub with vehicles arriving from virtually every part of the country has the largest number of bars at lorry stations.

The GNA''s nationwide survey found out that the Neoplan Station in Accra, which sees over 400 vehicles a day leaving or arriving in the capital, has nine drinking spots.

The Executives of the Number 3 Branch of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) plying Accra-Lagos-Agege; the Neoplan Buses, the Ford, and the 207 Benz Buses Branches, confirmed the presence of the drinking bar operators at their stations.

They claimed that attempts to halt their operations and complaints to the various welfare committees had not been successful because the operators had strong connections with the powers that be.

Mr Martin Agyei Kumi, the Neoplan Station Welfare Committee Secretary, confirmed the claim but blamed the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) for allocating shops to the drinking bar operators at lorry parks, adding: 93The AMA officials collect monthly rents from the operators."

He, however, wondered the effect a total ban would have since drivers could still make stopovers on their journeys to drink alcohol and said since all the spots had exit points their customers could sneak in an out without being noticed by the Welfare Officers.

Mr Kumi expressed the Committee''s preparedness to cooperate with the authorities to rid the stations of the 93tempting joints". There were no drinking spots at the Odawna Lorry Station and Mr Richard Ampah, the Welfare Committee Secretary, said: 93We have been very strict and particular about safety on the roads since time immemorial, hence the strict compliance."

Drinking spots were located at strategic points of the Adenta Lorry Station in Accra, the survey revealed. Mr Kojo Akorful, Assemblyman of the area said there were 25 drinking spots at the transport terminal. Mr Frank Sackey, First Trustee of the Adenta GPRTU, noted that, even though the Police Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU), was to educate drivers on road safety, "We do scrutinise our drivers during working hours. Drivers are stopped from driving if they are found to be drunk".

At the 37 Lorry Park GNA''s investigations revealed that the GPRTU had not been successful in its attempt to rid the station of alcoholic drinking spots with four joints doing brisk business contrary to the directives by the Police.

Briefing the GNA, Mr Jacob Alifoe, Chairman of the Drivers Welfare Committee, confirmed the existence of the bars at the park but said they operated clandestinely.

At Koforidua the survey revealed that a number of drinking bars had been relocated but there were a number of spots at the Mini Bus Station.

An official, however, said despite the location of the spots drivers were checked to ensure that they did not patronise them while on duty.

He expressed support for the idea to remove drinking spots from the lorry parks since it would help to check drunken-driving that often led to accidents.

The New Juaben Municipal Chief Executive, Nana Akwasi Adjei-Boateng said he was not aware that a drinking spot had 93resurfaced" at the Koforidua-Accra-Tema Mini Bus Station and promised to meet with the owner for discussions.

From Kumasi, the nation''s second city, GNA investigation showed that drinking bars at lorry terminals was a major business in the Metropolis in spite of attempts by the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) and the MTTU to ban the practice to ensure that drivers did not drink and drive.

More than half of accidents in the country occur on the Kumasi-Accra; Kumasi- Sunyani and Kumasi-Tamale roads.

Mr Kwaku Oware Boateng, Ashanti Regional Co-ordinator of NRSC, said the enforcement of the ban had not been easy and appealed to all stakeholders to 93join arms" to address the problem.

He noted that Transport Unions and Station Masters had a responsibility to ensure that drivers did not drink before embarking on a journey and said the Commission would continue its campaign to enable both drivers and passengers to understand the danger of drunken-driving.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) James Sarfo-Peprah, Ashanti Regional MTTU Commander, admitted the ban had not been easy to enforce and called for collaboration between the Police, NRSC and the transport unions to ensure its success.

Mr Sumaila Boakye, Ashanti Regional Welfare Chairman of the GPRTU, said even though the ban on the sale of alcohol at lorry stations would be very difficult to enforce, Station Masters and Bookmen had a role to ensure that drivers did not drink drive. Safety Commission, MTTU and other stakeholders to help to reduce the spate of accidents.

The investigations revealed not less than seven drinking spots in the lorry station.

The Regional Chairman of the GPRTU, Mr Godfred Abulbire, expressed worry about the situation and said there was the tendency for drivers to sneak for a tot before setting off on a journey especially in the night. He cited an instance in 2002 when a driver under the influence of alcohol had a fatal accident leading to the death of many passengers. "Based on this, GPRTU officials in the Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions held a meeting and came out with proposals banning the sale of alcoholic drinks in lorry stations," he said.

Mr Abulbire said the General Secretary of the GPRTU issued a statement to District Assemblies urging them to ensure the enforcement of the ban but nothing had been done about the situation. He urged drivers to put a stop to the habit of drunken-driving and said offenders would be sanctioned when caught.Source:

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