Mr Speaker, thank you and the Hon Deputy Minority Leader for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, one of the commonest breaches of our laws is within the area of driving. The average driver in this country, probably, would breach parts of traffic regulations between the time he leaves home and when he gets back.
Either by speaking on the phone while driving when he or she is not supposed to do so, or a mother or a father allowing the child to stand on a seat in a car instead
of being strapped in the seat or sitting in a cot in a vehicle.
Mr Speaker, drivers of late have a different way of showing us the traffic regulation -- the vehicle has got a traffic indicator alright, but they do not use it; just before they manoeuver in front of us, they stick their hands out and assume that we have already seen their hands while we looked at their tail lights.
Mr Speaker, all these things happen on a daily basis, and I agree with the Hon First Deputy Speaker when he says that, perhaps, the reason these laws are not enforced may be because, all of us do not give the needed support to the Agencies; the DVLA, the National Road Safety Commission and the Ghana Police Service.
Mr Speaker, I am sure that a couple of people, even in this House, have probably been stopped once or twice by the Police in their driving life for talking on the mobile phone, but then the people would say it was their first time of doing so.
Mr Speaker, the Ghana Police Service would do their job if we give them the chance, but I am a bit concerned about a part of the law. Mr Speaker, I beg to read section 13 of the Road Traffic Act 2004, Act 683 as amended,
“A person of 18 years or above who
(a) drives a motor vehicle on a road, or
(b) sits on the front or rear seat of a motor vehicle being driven on a road without wearing a seat belt commits an offence …”
Mr Speaker, when the trotro people say that they do not need a seat-belt in parts of their car, we do not understand. The law says that if someone sits on the front seat or the rear seat -- But what about the middle seat? Or is the definition of a rear seat -- [Interruption] -- Sometimes, the trotro drivers would ask why we would want them to put on a seat-belt.
Mr Speaker, we live in a country -- some countries call it fool proof -- if we write laws for everybody, including my grandmother, we have to write it in a way that everybody must understand. The law says a “front and a rear seat,” and I am saying that I have met trotro drivers who have said that the law says that the people at the front and back seats are those supposed to wear seat-belts.
Mr Speaker, so, is it possible that these interpretations would be made in such a way that everybody would understand, that when we say “rear seats”, we mean all the seats? What prevented this House from writing a law that would say that everybody who sits in the car should wear a seat-belt?
Why do we say front seat or rear seat when we know that we do not only have front and rear seats in vehicles? So, when we pass laws, let us pass them for everybody and not for only those who understand the English language -- as people think they could understand.
Mr Speaker, sometimes, it is quite interesting when we talk about these issues and just leave them. Mr Speaker, what exact punitive measures are there for an ordinary person, an Hon Member of Parliament, a Judge or a police officer who is regularly seen by the public, driving and talking on the mobile phone?
We expect that these laws would be enforced by the Police, but when the Police regularly arrests us for doing same, we plead for clemency. We cannot pretend.
If these laws are supposed to be implemented and done well, then all of us, including Hon Members of Parliament, Judges and everybody who drives a car and speaks on a mobile phone should feel ashamed.
Mr Speaker, I am sure that all of us are talking to ourselves in our hearts that maybe coming to work this morning, we drove and talked on the mobile phone. It does not matter whether 10 people called us from our constituencies and that was why we needed to pick the mobile phone -- wrong is wrong even if it was my grandmother or even the Rt Hon Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I would want to side with the Hon First Deputy Speaker that, the only way that these laws could be enforced to make our roads safe is if everybody watching or hearing this could actually subject himself or herself to the same laws that if a person is caught by the Police speaking on the mobile phone while driving, then that person should actually endure and go through the punishment.
If somebody knows very well that his child, who is underage, stands on the front seat or the back seat, like a trophy, instead of being strapped in a seat belt, it is a crime, then when the Police arrests them -- and I urge the Police that the next time they arrest anybody, including myself, and the person pleads for clemency, they should not listen.
That is the only way the law could be -- [Laughter.] We pretend that the Police do not do their job -- Do we not say that? They are ready to do their jobs just as the Hon First Deputy Speaker said.
Mr Speaker, so, on this note, I believe that the call by the Hon Member is very well made, but the answer is not with the Police. The answer is with politicians, including most of us sitting in these chairs.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.