You know what it is, yet you don’t know what it is, but that is self-contradictory. Robert M. Pirsig.
I jumped out of bed like a soldier ready for battle around 12:15am after mid night to a serious deafening gunshot racket as in ‘to take cover” only to realized that, it was the sound of a motor bike specially designed to make such blasting and terrifying sound.
This was in my neighborhood “Roman Ridge” which happens to be named among the prime areas in Accra where very influential and well- to-do families make up the vast majority of the people.
A neighborhood that could stand up to such blatant disregard and disrespect of their right to a peaceful serene environment but yet unable to stand up to it. What went wrong, I must ask?
The very recent motorbike robbery at Ablekuma that ended the life of a young Ghanaian police man performing his regular duties re-echoes this experience in a different way: “I heard the gunshot way ahead of the robbery but gave it a second thought thinking it was the exhaust blast of those noisy motorbikes whose sound comes off like shootings until I saw the robbery happening, then I realized it was a true gunshot I heard and not the sound of a motorbike”. An eye witness account.
Could the situation of this robbery turn out any different if the first warning shot alert was anything to go by?
Speaking to mechanical motto engineer Mr. Stephen Kpabitey who trained at the Regional Maritime University (RMU) in Accra, revealed that this technology where motorcycles blast off like gun fires is called backfiring which he explained as usually involving the removal of portions of car exhaust system and turning the computer that regulates a cars fuel combustion to produce loud pops and flashes that fires like gunshots.
As to the reasoning behind such mechanic creations, Mr. Kpabitey reacts: “There is no proper reasoning connected to this than a blatant show-off which to me is very irrational and unnecessary as it causes a lot of panic and confusion especially when it is used in the night while people are sleeping but unfortunately has become a latest trend in customized car modification”.
According to him, straight pipping, another name for it, has become very popular with a lot of Motorbikes in Ghana as most fitting shops are open to providing such services to clients who want it used on motorbikes or even vehicles.
He sited an encounter where pedestrians started running and dodging unnoticed bullets at the sound of one such motorcycles nearly causing a stampede.
“How does it feel to call 911 and report gunshots to the police only to get there and it turns out that a lot of these incidents aren’t really gunfire’s but as a result of backfiring technology” he asked?
On the dangers of straight pipping on motor cycles, Mr. Kpabitey emphasized that it can pose a lot of dangers since removing the muffler designed to minimized exhaust noise and regulate flow of exhaust gases without which produces excessively loud disruptive noise that can cause hearing damage to the rider and people nearby.
It can also affect the performance of the motorcycle as the engine performance is not optimized and will be operating under low pressure and hence poorer fuel efficiency and potential engine damage, he elucidated.
Research also identifies that; backfiring can also occur due to faults linked to leakages in the exhaust of the motorcycle that allows one side oxygen rich air to be drawn into the exhaust pipe where it meets unburned fuel in a very hot environment, and end up with a bang which can be fixed or corrected if identified.
Is it Legal?
Ghana is a country with a lot of motorcycle activities mainly competing with vehicles on our roads as a means of transport usually most preferred by the youth to avoid the harsh human and vehicular traffic on major roads.
It is a common sight to witness motorcyclist maneuvering their way through traffic in their quest to avoid delays, cost and stress of unwavering traffic prevalent on our roads resulting from bad roads, faulty traffic lights and high indiscipline.
Ghana fortunately has several rules and regulation governing the use of motor bikes sitting on the shelves that deals with mandatory licensing, use of safety gears, Insurance, speed limits, passenger restrictions, driving under influence of drugs or alcohol, maintenance, correct parking and noise levels restrictions that disallows any form of modification that produces excessive noise and creates nuisance.
Could it be that, the police are selective of these provisions created for the sanity of society, watching these rules to gather dust on the shelves or are they oblivious of its availability in our statutory books? Ghana police, please go back and consult the relevant traffic laws and regulations in Ghana to aid enforcement.
Most fast, speedy and dangerous robbery activities in Ghana involve motor bikes. Taking you back to an instance where four rubbers on motorbikes open fire on an armored bullion van, in another instance, a 25-year-old motorbike robbery suspect was saved from being lynched by a mob and recently the young policeman whose life was taken by robbers on motorbikes.
To address this issue, even though the police has employed various skills in working to combat such crimes such as patrols, setting up checkpoints in areas where these robberies are rampant amidst educational awareness creation activities they engage in, it is necessary for the police to enforce the law, narrowing on all activities, ingenuities, technologies that streamlines crime and create a conducive environment for crime surge and thrive.
Written by: MABEL DELASSIE AWUKU – from the Information Services Department