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Why people die on the Kintampo-Tamale road

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi

Why people die on the Kintampo-Tamale road is not an act of God but an act of man. Last Friday’s fatal accident at Amoma Nkwanta in the Kintampo South District of the Bono East Region where about 60 plus people died with some burnt beyond recognition is not the first time such a gory accident has occurred on that stretch of the road.

Many deadly accidents have occurred on the Kintampo-Tamale road. Thousands of lives have been lost on that road alone.

On February 17, 2016, 53 people died when a Metro Mass bus and a truck rammed into each other around the Waterfalls in the Kintampo area. More than 30 people also sustained varying degrees of injury.

Anytime there is an accident on the highway in the Kintampo area, at least dozens die. 

Whilst working as a reporter for the Daily Graphic newspaper in the Brong Ahafo Region in 2014 and 2015, I reported on several accidents on the Kintampo-Tamale road and became worried about the trend.

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My initial thinking was that maybe the road was not good, but I was wrong. Having used the road on many occasions, I realised that the road was in good shape especially after I was transferred to the Tamale office of Graphic in 2015 and had to travel regularly on that stretch.

Whilst in Tamale, anytime I traveled on that road, I committed myself in the hands of God to keep me safe and in the event of any unfortunate incident, give me a perfect rest in Abraham’s bosom.

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The Kintampo-Tamale road looked like a death trap to me anytime I traveled on it, especially as I saw many mangled vehicles abandoned on the roadside after accidents.

The Kintampo-Tamale stretch compared to many other highways in the country, is one of the best but why is it that terrible accidents happen on that stretch of the road?

My experience

As the Bible admonishes Christians in John 4:1, to test every spirit to see whether they come from God, as a precautionary measure, I decided to test all the transport services on that road whilst working in Tamale. My plan was to settle on the one that provided good services and safety.

My first experience was an eyesore. The speed with which the bus moved from Tamale to Accra, made me conclude we were going to a different continent. My heart was in my mouth. When we eventually arrived in Accra from Tamale, I decided not to use their service again.

The second experience was also not anything to write home about. We used less than 10 hours to get to Tamale from Accra, a journey that should have taken at least 12 hours. I blacklisted them too.

I moved from one transport station to the other, and at a point, even critically examined the faces of the drivers to see whether they were the same ones I had used in the past and was not so much amused by their service.

STC

When the State Transport Corporation (STC) acquired some new buses to replace their old and rickety ones, I started patronising their services and their drivers impressed me. They used about 15 hours for the Tamale-Accra journey. Each of their buses had two drivers onboard and changed over anytime one was tired. But for the private transport operators, I saw they always had one driver on board.

At one time, one of the private buses I was traveling with nearly had an accident as a result of careless driving around 1 am. We had stopped at a police checkpoint together with about 15 other buses so the police could escort all the buses at a go as a measure to curb armed robbery which had become rampant on that particular stretch.

After waiting for about 15minutes and setting off, we realised that two passengers who had gotten down to stretch were not onboard and so we had to turn and go back for them. Our driver unfortunately ignored caution to turn in a curve. 

In what may be termed as divine intervention, a trailer traveling on "top" speed narrowly missed crashing our bus moments after the turn. The incident infuriated almost everybody on board who unleashed insults on the driver.

Why Kintampo-Techiman stretch

I will say that most of the accidents on that stretch of the highway are caused by the drivers themselves. Excessive speeding is one common feature of buses that ply that stretch because the road is straight and "go slow" traffic free.

Kintampo is in the centre of Ghana and by the time buses get there from either the South or North, the drivers presumably are tired. Some go to the extreme of sleeping intermittently whilst driving. I encountered about four different drivers from different transport operators sleeping whilst driving on the stretch. One nearly went into a ditch around Dawadawa, a community on the road.

Many of the buses move in the evening and so the greater part of the journey is done in the night. As a friend will say, you can’t cheat nature. If you drive whilst you are tired, obviously, you will sleep. And because most of the buses speed, when something happens, the drivers are unable to do anything about them, hence resulting in fatal accidents that kill dozens of people.

One way by which we can stop accidents on the Tamale-Kintampo stretch is to either stop the buses from moving in the night or insist that all long distance journey buses should compulsorily have two drivers. The probability of drivers preventing avoidable accidents in the day time is far higher than in the night. I rest my case.