Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged between 5-29 years globally, according to World Health Organisation.
It is also projected that road traffic crashes cost most counties three percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Undoubtedly, road crash is among the leading causes of death in Ghana.
Road safety campaigns in Ghana appear not to be yielding the desire results. Travellers do not feel very safe embarking on their journeys. This is killing domestic tourism and affecting Gross Domestic Product.
Almost, all major road roads in Ghana have recorded a fair share of road crashes with fatalities.
Generally, statistics on road crashes are frightening and painful writing about.
Specifically, this write-up focuses on the Kintampo-Tamale stretch of the Kumasi Bolgatanga road and to make a case for urgent measures to halt the carnage on that stretch.
It is with great pain to recall some of the tragic road crashes that have occurred on the road, within the last three years.
The stretch has in the past three years recorded, probably Ghana’s most horrendous singular road crash with heavy death tolls and injuries.
In February 2016, 63 people many of them from the Talensi District of Upper East Region, perished, and 23 suffered injuries, some of them maimed forever, when a Metro Mass Transit buses on which they were traveling on to the Upper Region crashed with a tomato truck.
The initial report was that it was brake failure and the poor judgment on the part of the driver to “manage” the situation resulted in the “mass killing.”
Then in April 2018 another 23 people were killed on the same stretch in a road crash involving Kia “Granbird” and “Yutong” buses operated by the private firms under the confusing names of VIP, VVIP, Fantastic VVIP and so on.
It occurred at village called Yipala close to Buipe. Earlier in January a road crash claimed the lives of 14 people on the stretch.
And as if the blood spill on the stretch is not enough, another horrendous road crash occurred last Friday, claiming at least 53 precious lives and many injuries also involving the buses that appear to gain notoriety for “mass killing” on our roads- ”ANKA VVIP” bus and “Kia Granbird”.
It was reported that one of the drivers was sleeping and lost control of himself.
It is time to take urgent steps now! Travellers to the Northern, Upper East and North-East Regions, especially sons and daughters of this part of the country deserve to travel in comfort and arrive at their destinations safely!
Garu in Upper East Region suffered heavy casualty as many of the occupants of one of the buses in last Friday road crash hail from there. Many of them who got burnt in the carnage could not be identified and had to be buried in mass grave at a cemetery close by.
These lost souls were bread winners of their families and had also been engaging in economic activities contributing to Gross Domestic Product. Their death is not only a big loss to their families and communities who look up to them for survival, but to the country as whole.
Parents have died in these three ghastly road crashes living orphans. Children with bright future also had their lives cut shot.
It appears not much has been done to ensure safety on that stretch. As a way forward to stop the carnage on that stretch, the following measures are proffered.
The Kintampo-Tamale road appears good and one wonders the cause of the ghastly accidents. The road is nearly three decades since it was last rehabilitated. There is the need for the Ghana Highways Authority to do some auditing on the road, to enhance safety measures, to take care of additional long haul buses that have come on board.
The government should consider placing a ban on the long haul buses to the north for the operators to engage in introspection, to put their houses in order.
Most of the road crashes are caused by human factor, with the driver at the centre of affairs.
We need expert advice on whether it is prudent and safe to allow these transport operators to travel at night, given the fact that the night is meant for human beings to sleep and not to drive.
We are told human being need at least eight hours of sleep at night. What do the drivers do that make them stay awake to drive between 12 and 16 hours, in some cases by a sole-driver, without sleep?
As a long-term measure, the government should expedite efforts at realising the long-term dream of the Accra-Paga railway system, so that travellers to that part of the country would have better and safe alternative means to the north.
For now, the various transport operators to the north are only engaging in fierce competition for their economic gains, relegating safety to the back-burner.
The government must also revisit the proposed Bolgatanga Airport at Anateem, on the Bolgatanga-Navrongo road, that has been abandoned for nearly three decades. Fortunately, the minister of aviation comes from the region.
A stitch in time saves nine!
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman