Central Region loses 190 to accidents in six months

BY: Shirley Asiedu-Addo
Many firemen are traumatised by the many bloody accident scenes they encounter
Many firemen are traumatised by the many bloody accident scenes they encounter

This year is barely nine months old but already, 190 lives have been lost in road accidents in the Central Region between January and July this year.

The figure represents an increase of 45 lives lost over the same period last year. In 2020, 145 lives were lost over the period.

Sharing some harrowing experiences as a rescue officer, Station Officer 1 Oko Ahe Mensah Sampson of the Central Regional headquarters of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) said “At one accident scene the body of the person was divided into two halves. I had to search for the other half. At another time the liver was out through the chest, my colleague started throwing up.

“Sometimes it makes some of us sick what we see at the accident scenes. Others have a lot of psychological trauma.”

The current statistics provided by the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) indicates that 52 pedestrians were also knocked and killed over the period.

Road accidents

The lives were lost in 601 road accidents involving 883 vehicles. The vehicles included 419 commercial vehicles, 288 private automobiles, as well as 176 motorcycles.

A victim of a motorcycle accident, Mr Patrick Ayizah, a worker with the Ghana Red Cross Society (GRCS) had his motorbike hit by a speeding vehicle while distributing first aid boxes to GRCS points along the Accra-Cape Coast highway.

He sustained a leg fracture and for over a year he has not been able to walk or go to work. The situation has delayed his marriage plans and caused him a lot of psychological stress.

"It has not been easy but we are managing. You can't do much with this situation and I have to depend on my siblings for support," he told the Daily Graphic.

The number of road crashes this year is already 111 more than the number of cases (490) reported over the same period in 2020.
Persons injured were 820, which was ,however, four less than that over the same period last year.

CRCC takes action

As a result of the spate of accidents, the Central Regional Coordinating Council (CRCC), held a Regional Security Council meeting last Tuesday for stakeholders to discuss ways of reducing the road carnage.

At the meeting attended by heads of security agencies, representatives of driver unions, some district assembly representatives and the media, the Central Regional Commander of the GNFS, Assistant Commissioner of Fire (ACFO) John Amarlai Amartey, said the personnel were greatly affected by the many bloody accident scenes they encountered in their line of duty.

"Many tell me the experiences they go through which leaves them traumatised for days.

"Some say they cannot eat. Others have trouble sleeping and some have resorted to drinking," he told the stakeholders meeting which sought to find solutions to the increasing carnage on the roads.

The Central Regional Manager of the NRSA, Ms Linda Afotey Annan, told the meeting that indiscipline on the road by road users was one major factor causing the crashes.

She said road carnage had caused the nation 1.6 per cent of its gross domestic product, saying this required serious efforts from all to reduce the carnage.

She indicated that some of the top 20 accident sites included Kasoa, Potsin Junction, Nyayano junction, Bawjiase junction around the police station and the Ankamu junction.

The Assin Fosu Mosque-Cecilia Maternity Home and Railway area also at Assin Fosu was also cited.

Others include the Silo culvert, Mprumem culvert junction to Ayibefo at Winneba, Police headquarters-SIC junction and Ameen Sangari-UCC main gate in Cape Coast, as well as the ECOWAS city junction and Gomoa Nyayanor Kakraba Shadow Inn area.

Ms Afotey-Annan said many drivers failed to comply with road regulations, resulting in crashes.

She noted that driver inattentiveness for instance, careless overtaking and speeding were some of the main causes of crashes.

Another cause of road crashes, she noted, was inadequate signage and markings on the road and the engineering of some of the roads and, therefore, called for effective collaboration to reduce the rates of accidents.

The Central Regional Minister, Mrs Justina Marigold Assan, said the carnage on roads in the region was making the area, touted as a preferred tourism destination in the country, unattractive.

She also noted that the problem of congestion at spots including Mankessim, leading to longer travel times and increasing traffic jams, was one of concern.

Mrs Assan charged all institutions and agencies involved to work harder to ensure the strict enforcement of road regulations and reduce fatalities on the roads.

Operation Arrive Alive

The Central Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police Kwadwo Antwi Tabi, said the police had put in place an Accident Prevention Squad and would roll out "Operation Arrive Alive" to effectively check wrongful road usage and help reduce accidents.

The meeting called for the banning of the sale of alcohol at lorry parks and reengineering of some of the roads to reduce accidents.

Participants also expressed worry that most of the vehicles involved were vehicles from outside the region travelling through the region and called for intensified nationwide education.

They further expressed great worry over the unregulated use of tricycles in the region, especially in the Cape Coast Metropolis and called for by-laws to regulate them.

Chilling stories

Continuing his chilling stories, Station Officer 1 Sampson of the GNFS who has been at this job for close to a decade and done rescue assignment in major accidents in the Central Region including the infamous Dompoase accident that claimed 34 lives, said of the accident victims, "Sometimes we meet them alive but before our eyes they leave; they die.”

The Regional Public Relations Officer of the GNFS DO111 Abdul Wasiu Hudu, described road crashes as a national security issue which has to be given serious and urgent attention.

"We all travel. We are all potential victims. No bodyguard can protect one from a road crash,” he said adding that their effect should not be down played.

"Sometimes we pull people out of a wreckage and there are no ambulances to transport them,” he said.