Very soon we seemed to have forgotten the June 3 disaster in which over 200 people died in the flood coupled with fire. It really attracted media and international attention. It has died down with the euphoria that accompanied it. It is now Kintampo accident. How long will it last? May be some one or two weeks and it is over. Road traffic accident is the number one killer in Ghana. According to National Road Traffic Commission, 4 people die daily as a result of accidents. About 1600 people die in accidents yearly and as a result of that Ghana loses 230 million dollars a year contributing to about 1.7% loss of our gross domestic product. This makes it very risky for every Ghanaian as far as road traffic accidents are concerned. It really calls for concern for us all to find a lasting solution to this carnage that is claiming a lot innocent lives. The cost of accidents are very expensive and quantifiable since it runs to loss of properties, lives, incapacitated injuries and everlasting effects on the lives of those are affected directly or indirectly forever. Psychological trauma is unimaginable.
Due to rampant accident cases and its effects on people and the economy, the National Road Traffic Commission was established in 1999 and backed by Act 567. The commission was to partner to partner with Motor Traffic Department (MTTD) of Ghana Police Service, the Transport Ministry, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and others to ensure that our roads are safe from road crashes. Has the commission been able to achieve its target even though there are statistics indicating that accidents are reducing? The answer is no but has made some strides in efforts to solve the accident problem. The rest is us the citizenry and our attitudes towards safety measures on the road. We care less as far as road safety is concerned. The result is mass deaths that occur in one accident and the Kintampo one is of no exception. National Road Safety Commission since its inception have embarked onn several educational programs to educate drivers, passengers, pedestrians and any other road user on safety on our roads. There have been several adverts ran on television, radio and other media outlets but still road traffic accidents menace is still not reducing as expected. Why? The reason is that Ghanaians are not responding to the efforts of National Road Safety Commission. It is because we are very irresponsible towards our own safety.
As a young Police officer who has been investigating accidents for the past 7 years, I have tried to go beyond whose fault contributed to the accident and subsequent prosecution of the offended driver to seek what really causes the faults. I always try to know the psychology behind every accident case that I have investigated. The reasons are uncountable but can be summed up that Ghanaians are very careless about their own lives when it comes to road safety. It is a matter of saying prayers when starting your journey and ending it with prayers as well, just devine intervention. Some of the accidents are purely due to the carelessness of the drivers and irresponsible attitudes of people towards their own lives. People feel the effects of the accident after they have been involved or lost a dependable relative in an accident. At that moment, they will grieve and lament about the accident situations in the country. Typical of every Ghanaian, as time goes by he or she soon forgets and move on with life though at times very deformed and incapable. That is why I am very confident that the accident that occurred on the Kintampo – Kumasi road in which over 70 people died would soon be forgotten and Ghanaians will lead a normal life until another one happens. Very irresponsible about our own safety.
Every accident investigator seeks to establish whether the accident occurred due to the carelessness or negligence of the drivers involved or it is a circumstances beyond the control of the driver. If it is a brake failure or a Tyre burst, it is considered to be a mechanical fault and circumstances beyond the control of the driver. In that case even if the driver killed 1000 or more, he is eventually left to go Scot free per the law. I am hearing the Kintampo accident occurred because the driver failed brakes. A situation that makes the accident purely due to mechanical faults and the driver not culpable but there is evidence of negligence due to the fact that after realizing that braking systems became defective, he still decided to drive on with the vehicle after a mechanic he contracted failed to fix the braking systems. If none of the above mentioned conditions is applicable, then the driver is prosecuted under our laws. That is when somebody will ask whether our laws work? Laws work if humans want them to work. All hands must be on deck before the law works.
Often times the police are blamed when these things happen but is it always the case? I have been victimized severally by politicians, business men and women, lawyers the general public simply because I am taking the steps to protect their own lives at the expense of mine. I have once been told by a politician that anytime I try to check him, he will make sure I am dismissed from the police. A certain deputy minister also threatened to transfer me to some remote village by reporting me to my regional commander. You expect accidents to reduce with these attitudes from those who are supposed to model the role towards the accidents reduction in the country? I think no! We were all in this country when a deputy minister commanded a whole armor car from Accra to go to Cape Coast to bring police officers to be detained for stopping him when he was reported to have been on tough speed. When serious accidents happened, all of them will come on various screens and radio stations to run various commentaries and blame the police and others whereas his own commitment is questionable. It is hypocritical and must stop.
Ahanta the talking parrot will say it. For once we should be serious as people and country.
Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III