Transport Minister, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, broke down at the site where 38 victims of the Kintampo road crash – burnt beyond recognition – were buried in a mass grave.
His colleague Minister for Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako Atta, who initially looked strong, was also overcome by emotions after hearing first-hand accounts by some victims who recount how their bus collided head-on with another bus last Friday, March 22, killing at least 59 passengers onboard the two vehicles.
This was when they visited some of the accident victims at the Techiman Holy Family Hospital and the Kintampo South District Hospital on Tuesday, March 26, to commiserate with them and also get firsthand information from them.
The two government officials, accompanied by the Executive Director of the Ghana National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), May Obiri Yeboah and personnel from both Techiman and Kintampo Police Commands, also visited the accident scene at Ampomakrom in the Kintampo South District.
The team had on Monday, March 25, embarked on a similar mission to the Trauma & Specialist Hospital, Winneba and the St. Luke Holy Family Hospital, Apam, as well as the scene of another road crash at Ekumfi in the Central Region, which also happened on the same day.
The accident on the Kintampo-Techiman highway involved two passenger buses – a KIA Grand Bird registered as GT 5694 – 18, travelling from Garu Tempane to Kumasi and a VVIP bus with registration number GT 3916 – 17 which was travelling from Accra to Tamale.
Both had a total of 108 passengers on board.
Read also: Kintampo-Techiman road crash: 53 survived Friday fatality – Police
The driver of the KIA Grand Bird, according to the narration of the surviving victims, was speeding excessively and dosing off intermittently, disregarding cautions by the passengers to slow down.
Eventually, his vehicle veered off his lane and collided head-on with the oncoming VVIP, Ernest Atabila, one of the victims narrated.
“We were coming from Garu and somewhere along the line, we saw another vehicle climbing the hilly road. Our driver over sped to reach that vehicle and at a point in time tried overtaking it. From there, he continued over speeding and when you caution him to exercise restraints, he tells you that he wants to pick some market women who trade in okro and were waiting for him,” the passenger revealed.
He added the driver “even told us those who could not withstand the speed at which he was traveling could get off the vehicle. So after crossing the Police barrier, I saw him dozing off and the vehicle veered off the road but it was too late to save the situation. Our bus in the process, ran into the incoming VVIP bus causing this avoidable accident”, Ernest lamented.
Ramatu Issaka, a 54-year old woman, who lost her three grandchildren who were also onboard the KIA Grand Bird bus, also said:
“We cautioned the driver several times against over speeding but he didn’t listen to us. We had no choice than to keep quiet and prayed that he takes us to our destination. Just some few kilometers after crossing the barrier, he ran into the other bus after veering off his lane.”
The narration of the victims was corroborated by the Kintampo Divisional Police Commander, ACP Joseph Gyawu.
The Transport Minister, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, interacting with journalists after visiting the road crash victims, said he was shocked and devastated after listening to the narration of the victims. He urged the citizenry to be resolute and insist that speeding drivers slow down.
He said indiscipline on the country’s roads, especially, the highways, is killing so many people and it was about time this ended.
“Please join us to educate the citizenry about security and road safety on our roads because so many lives are being lost. You know for a fact that today, the number one killer disease is no more malaria – it is road crashes. And so, we now have to take our destiny into our own hands,” he noted while addressing Rev. Sister Catherine Osei, Deputy Director of Nursing at Techiman Holy Family Hospital.
He also urged the Police to up their game and map out new strategies that will help them to strictly enforce road safety regulations in the country.
“I know that you are doing your best but seeing and knowing what is happening to us, all of us must up our game and see that wherever we are having lapses and allowing these reckless drivers to behave the way they are behaving. We have to try to tackle it so that they don’t capitalise on the loose points and misbehave,” he said.
Rev. Sister Catherine Osei, on her part, complained bitterly about none adherence on the part of drivers, to road safety rules despite the numerous road safety education campaigns they’ve mounted to sensitise the drivers and other road users.
“Today, people are not dying because of diseases. The number one killer has to do with road crashes. In our part of the world here in Techiman, we’ve been educating road users every day about the wearing of helmets and adherence to other road safety regulations but they don’t take the advice. So, like you have just said, we all have to do our best to reduce the carnage on our roads,” she noted.
The Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako Atta, commenting on the accident said he was very surprised to hear that the accident was caused by the recklessness of the KIA Grand Bird driver contrary to claims by a section of the public that the accident was partly caused by the bad nature of the road network.
He said it was time to confront reckless drivers with punitive measures, believing that would help reduce to the barest minimum if not totally eliminate, the road crashes.
To him, the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) ought to be commended for intensifying their sensitisation and educational campaigns since last year.
“Look at the road, it’s a straight road and the road line markings are there. Other necessary road furnishings are all there and you can vividly see them…We should let our people understand and I can assure you that we will do whatever is possible to stop this indiscipline on our roads,” he said.
According to the Police, 59 lives have so far been lost through the Kintampo road crash out of which 39 got burnt while 53 people from both buses survived the road crash.
Some of the surviving victims who were taken to the various hospitals in the enclave have been treated and discharged.
Four dead bodies are still in the Kintampo South District morgue and are yet to be identified by their relatives, according to the Medical Superintendent of the Hospital, Cornelius Atsu Blekpi.
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