Jerome Otchere Writes: Kotoko: Remembering July 12th
It is one day that will not be forgotten. It should never be forgotten. It is the day Asante Kotoko bus with 18 players and about 12 officials on board, was involved in a fatal accident on the Accra-Kumasi Highway. The tragic incident occurred after a Ghana Premier League match away to Inter Allies at the El Wak Stadium, Accra. The Porcupines lost the game 1-0 through disgraceful officiating by Referee Prince Amoah. The Nkwakaw dual carriage was the exact location of the accident.
Today, the pain that tragedy wreaked in our hearts may have naturally subsided with time but the loss of Equipment Officer, Thomas Asare is still strongly felt. Everyone at Asante Kotoko, particularly those who were in responsible position, and Thomas Asare’s family are yet to overcome the feeling of emptiness felt on the bloody Wednesday night. God continues to heal everyone and help Asante Kotoko managers to go about the business of the club purposefully and professionally – better than what we have seen in recent years. I agree with then Management member, Thomas Boakye Agyeman that, “The bus accident is still fresh” on our minds.
So fresh that, I remember vividly how the news reached me. I had returned home from the office after an editorial meeting when reports filled my social media channels that, Kotoko’s bus had been involved in an accident. I was afraid of what the details would be as I placed calls to those on the bus. Reporter, Issac Gyebi answered one of my calls. His account left me panicking. It was emotionally devastating. All we had planned for Kotoko Express, the Friday edition had to be changed immediately. That was not difficult compared to the emotional composure I needed as an editor, working with visibly disturbing images of the bus and its occupants.
My phone ranged many times. Calls from relatives and friends who feared I was on the bus came in droves. I was not on the bus. My friends and colleagues were however in there. Their experience was frightening. Aside the fatal case of Thomas Asare; Driver, Nana Berkye; Coach Steven Pollack, and Team Manager, Godwin Ablordey suffered severe injuries. Berkye and Pollack had multiple surgeries and without any prompting, individuals, groups and companies including clubs like rivals Hearts of Oak, lovingly and caringly visited hospitalised players and officials with gifts and cash.
It is a shame that the accident victims still feel bad about not receiving compensation although they are grateful for the life-saving treatment at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. It is that good we remember July 12, 2017, but it is disappointing that, compensation to the accident victims remains an unresolved an issue. May we never forget that awful day and may those incharge of the club find reason to consider the demand for compensation. Like it or not, the compensation issue badly hangs around the neck of the club and I fear it might come to bite us legally, one day, if it is not exhaustively addressed.