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Opinion | Mar 27, 2019

Ordinary Lives Matter!

Pearl Asomaning Kemajou
Ordinary Lives Matter!

The tragedy in Kintampo has betrayed the consequences of longstanding institutional indifference towards the life and safety of ordinary citizens. It has transformed the impact of our deplorable roads and the failures of law enforcement into another example of a terrible human disaster.

The Kintampo tragedy despite the shock it provoked nationwide and the avalanche of messages of condolence to the bereaved that have struggled for spaces in newspapers, radio and television is only a grain in the heap of sand, in the unending tale of road carnage in Ghana.

As would be expected, just as in other cases, the tears of the bereaved will dry in a few weeks so as the concern and sympathy of government, and we will be back to the same point.

Nothing like support or compensation for bereaved women and children, but this is to be expected of a country where insurance policies are not human centered.

For the widows and orphans, the words of sympathy, bereft of any material support from government means the inevitable worsening of their working and living conditions and the intensification of their poverty.

Ghana ranks only second to Italy in terms of road accidents. Apart from the obvious failures and challenges in enforcing road traffic regulations, it must be understood that much of the road accidents involve head on collisions.

This results from the fact that most of our highways are single lane roads. Incoming and outgoing vehicles have their paths distinguished by painted lines. There are no physical barriers. Thus head on collisions are commonplace on Ghana’s highways.

Head on collisions produce double impacts and thus are incredibly calamitous.

Ghana has no extensive railway systems linking the Coast to the North. Goods from Tema-Accra to the interior rely on cargo trucks. Cargo trucks do not have the same control mechanisms as ordinary cars. They easily reel off.

Commercial interests of private truck owners have always hindered the development of the rail system since the last attempt in the era of Dr. Busia.

These trucks, apart from the human carnage are the main cause of road deterioration in Ghana.

Ghana consequently spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually in the rehabilitation of its main highways.

The commercial and political power of cargo truck owners, afford the drivers the luxury of being the worst violators of road traffic regulations. They are noted for paying huge bribes to the police and often in serious cases the owners of these trucks use their personal influence to thwart judicial processes.

Thus the taxes, lives and limbs of ordinary people are sacrificed on the altar of private commercial interests.

On the 8th of March 2017, my mother, Theresa Korkor Djan was counted amongst the innumerable victims when driving in her car, was fatally crushed by a tipper cargo truck. This was on a road that tipper cargo trucks have been barred from using; however this regulation for a long time has been violated with gross impunity. I had enough of my fair share of how it feels to suddenly loose a relative or loved one in a road accident. I can also empathize with those who found the bodies of their relatives charred and buried in mass graves and thus never had the opportunity of giving them befitting burials.

My thoughts are more with dependent relatives, particularly the widows and orphans borne out of this and all other road accidents.

With the increasing spate of road accidents on our highways, it has followed that the elite have found solace in air transport spearheaded by the establishment, expansion of airports and the installation of state of the art aeronautical facilities by means of public and private funding.

This situation, amongst the rest stated, will reinforce the existing conditions of our highways and further entrench the culture of official disregard for the safety and lives of ordinary people.

Thus we may for now, unfortunately, have to expect more expressions of condolences from high places flooding our media, until there is a comprehensive public transport policy that ensures safety, efficiency, affordability and comfort for all Ghanaians.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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