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18.04.2006 Obituaries

All 35 Accident Victims Identified

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All the 35 people who perished in the bloody carnage at the Akropong Junction near Kumasi last Monday night have now been identified.

The police told the Daily Graphic in Kumasi yesterday that almost all of them came from the surrounding communities such as Abuakwa, Tanoso, Sepaase, Mim, Hyiau, Apatrapa and Agogo.

The Commander of the Ashanti Regional Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) James Sarfo Peprah, said 13 of the deceased, namely, Stephen Opoku, Gladys Agyeiwaa, who was a choirmistress, Kwame Acheampong, Mary Nkrumah, John Amoesi, Esther Bonsu, Francis Appiah, Mr Brefo, a choirmaster, Comfort Badu, Yaw Nsowaa, Esther Amoateng, Adolf Oduro and Margaret Asumaning, resided at Abuakwa. Also identified were P.K. Atidepe, the driver of the Inter-City STC bus, and Kwame Acheampong, the driver of the 207 Mercedes Benz bus. Both died on the spot. He said six of the dead, Jonas Mensah, who was a choirmaster, Anthony Adusei, Owusu Sekyere, Esther Kontor, Martha Dufie and Faustina Boateng, also resided at Sepaase, while three others, Edward Gyimah, Philomina Korankye and Williams Kwadwo Amponsah, also resided at Agogo. Mr Peprah said Eric Dankwa, Cecilia Nyamekye, Bernard Ohemeng Mensah and Martin Asiedu Frimpong also resided at Mim, while the remaining two, Eric Boakye and Lawrence Kwasi Addai, were identified as residents of Apatrapa and Hyiau Besease, respectively. The commanding officer attributed the accident to impatience on the part of the driver of the 207 Mercedes Benz bus. He said investigations conducted by the police indicated that the deceased driver was following a Tico taxi so closely that he failed to slow down when the taxi tried to branch at a junction at Akropong. He said to avoid hitting the taxi, Acheampong veered into the other lane, crashing into the oncoming STC bus and killing the 35 people. “If Acheampong had exercised a little patience and slowed down for even a second, the fatal accident could have been avoided,” he explained.

Mr Peprah described the situation as horrible and attributed it to gross disrespect for traffic regulations.

He said the failure of drivers to rest when they were tired, as well as their impatience, also contributed to road accidents.

He said 18 females and 17 males, including the driver of the 207 Mercedes Benz bus, with registration number AS 8320 C, who resided at Abuakwa, near Kumasi, and that of the Inter-City STC bus, with registration number GW 8396 U, died on the spot.

Mr Peprah pointed out that the accident, coming in the wake of intensive education on road safety by the National Road Safety Commission, indicated that the drivers were not adhering to the principles of the campaign and described that situation as disturbing, He said notwithstanding the setbacks, the police and the other agencies would not relent in their efforts to sustain the campaign to reduce the carnage on the roads.

Mr Peprah said as part of measures to sustain the campaign, the agencies would now invade the various lorry stations such as Kejetia, Asafo Market and Krofrom and educate the drivers at the stations, “with the hope that they will listen to us and strictly adhere to road traffic regulations”.

He called on passengers to be bold enough to tell drivers to respect road regulations, especially when they did things contrary to the regulations.

“If they fail to listen to you, report them to the nearest police station for action to be taken against them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Frank Adu-Poku, has indicated the readiness of the police to go all out to enforce road traffic regulations to the letter, reports Kwame Asare Boadu.

“We are not going to spare any driver who bends the rules,” he told the Daily Graphic in an interview yesterday.

According to him, some drivers were not ready to accept the education by the Regional Road Safety Committee.

That, he noted, called for the full enforcement of road traffic regulations so that some safety would return to the roads. ACP Adu-Poku noted that if the police decided to relax, the situation would further deteriorate.

He cautioned against overspeeding and other unprofessional driving practices on the road.

In a related development, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) has come under criticism for not doing much to stop unqualified people from driving.

In an interview in Kumasi yesterday to react to public outcry over the carnage, the National President of the Drivers Welfare Union, Mr Sumaila Boakye, said many drivers had been issued with drivers' licences without undergoing any formal training.

He also blamed the problem on the proliferation of transport unions, which he said numbered about 17.

Mr Boakye said the buses were the cause of many of the accidents on the roads and pointed out that the problem was not with the 207 buses but with the drivers.

“The Mercedes Benz 207 is a good vehicle so if we want to check accidents, we must focus on the people who drive those vehicles,” he said.

Mr Boakye emphasised that about 95 per cent of the accidents on the roads were the result of human error which needed to be corrected, instead of putting the blame on the 207 buses.

He claimed that because the 207 buses were many in the system, many fake drivers had had the opportunity to drive them.

Mr Boakye called for the intensification of the education on road safety, while the authorities took measures to weed out the fake drivers from the system.