I had traveled to Bawku from Wa to attend the 7th day Islamic funeral rights of my grandfather. Growing up and having older uncles was fun, more interesting is having a younger uncle. My uncle was nicknamed the ‘young father’ because most of us being the Nephew and Niece are older than him and as a matter of kinship within our traditional settings, we accord him that honour. He was with his grandfather till the last moment.
The death of my grandfather appeared as a breakthrough in his life, haven graduated from Agric College of Education, Kwadieso and waiting upon posting, he had received the posting and needed to get down to Accra for the registration process.
At noon the news read, 60 perished in Wenchi road accident. The phones were off and the elders in the family were contacted. This is the story of how I lost my uncle who was just under age 30 and blessed with two children.
The grief of my family continued from losing a grandfather full of wisdom and losing a young uncle full of life. The accident did not send my family and the people of Manga in the Bawku enclave into horrific mourning, pitifully the Kusaung kingdom with Garu and Tempani been the hard hit. Dozens of the dead were from those places.
It is sad that this continuing tragic loss of life from buses en route the Kusaung kingdom (Bawku, Binduri, Garu, Tempane and Pusiga)- the most famous Wenchi accidents in 2019 which is still fresh in the minds of many Ghanaians, only mark the beginning of perennial accidents to occur that will send a lot of families into mourning from the Bawku enclave fast forward; we had in the spade of two weeks recorded accident of a bus route to Bawku at the Nasia bridge, and about Eight life have been lost. The latest accident has been the Buipe, where a Garu bond bus crashed with about 18 lives been lost.
We have mourned and cried our heart out and whenever there is a reported case of road carnage, our minds go playback the memories of those we lost. I am always traumatized to think of Late Uncle Issaka Nurideen. A death, I still struggle to come to terms with, and I know may have this unforgettable experience.
The people of Bawku and its environs have suffered so much in terms of underdevelopment and road carnage has become a new monster. It is time government; duty bearers and key stakeholders take a keen interest in the menace. The informal commercial buses dominate the ploughing of the road and it should be of great concern. Buses’ safety, driver’s professional competence and oversight responsibility in regulating their operations could help avert this.
While we will appeal to the government to reflect on the realities of the sorry state of our road infrastructure- in the 21st century, we still use one lane road. Ghana’s major road network should receive a facelift, so incoming and out-going vehicles will not be facing each other. We must invest in the road network, for we are all in the vulnerability context.
The Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU), the Ghana Road Safety Commission (GRSC), the Ministry of Roads and Transport and The Ghana Private Roads and Transport Unions (GPRTU) should review regulations on long-distance driving and ban the use of only one driver for a commercial vehicle. The practice of the Intercity Transit – State Transport Cooperation (STC) where two drivers are paired must be encouraged.
Another issue that needs urgent attention is the poor nature of the buses. Duty bearers must be proactive and not connive with vehicle owners and drivers to plough our roads with buses that are out of use. From brake safety to car qualities are critical issues that need to be examined. We cannot compromise on safety based on individuals’ self-interest. For if we do, the price will continue to be unnecessary road carnage.
Development Consultant, Youth Activist and Pan- Africanist Author