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Accidents kill 21 pupils in Ahafo, Bono regions in 3 months
Within three months, a total of 21 children have died in three separate accidents in the two newly created regions from a region previously known as Brong-Ahafo.Subscribe
Two of the incidents happened in the Ahafo Region in November 2022 and December 2022, while in January 2023, a similar incident occurred in the Bono East Region.
Two out of the three incidents happened when the children were travelling from one community to another, to access education.
It was only in one of the incidents in the Ahafo Region that the schoolchildren, who accompanied their parents to farm on Saturday, met their untimely deaths.
This was when the tricycle which was transporting them home got involved in an accident, killing eight of them on the spot.
The situation has become very disturbing, compelling parents to call for urgent attention from stakeholders to put measures in place, to prevent such incidents from occurring.
On Friday, November 11, 2022, five schoolchildren of the Techire DS Elites Academy died on the Adrobaa-Techire road in the Tano North Municipality in the Ahafo Region when the vehicle which was transporting them to school was involved in an accident.
Out of 42 occupants in the rickety school bus, 37 of the victims survived, but they sustained life-threatening injuries, after the vehicle somersaulted.
The school's mini bus with registration number AW 6345-11 was travelling from Adrobaa to Techire, where the school is located, when the driver lost control of the steering wheel at a section of the road, after which the vehicle somersaulted.
Three males and two females who were rushed to the St John of God Hospital at Duayaw Nkwanta could not survive.
According to the police, the deceased persons were between the ages of eight and 10.
Five out of the 11 victims who were rushed to the St John of God Hospital at Duayaw Nkwanta, were later referred to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), due to the severity of their conditions.
On Saturday, December 10, 2022, eight children died on the spot at Ata-ne-Ata, a farming community in the Asutifi South District in the Ahafo Region, following a ghastly accident on the Hwidiem-Goaso highway.
Out of 11 people who perished in that accident, eight of them were children between the ages of 11 and 17.
The incident happened when a tricycle, which was carrying the victims as well as some bags of ginger, tried to overtake another one at Ata-ne-Ata.
However, the tricycle fell on its side and threw both the passengers and the bags of ginger onto the middle of the road, and an oncoming KIA truck from the Goaso side of the road ran over the children, instantly killing them.
The victims, who were from Nkaseim, Kwamo and Ohiatua, and were aged between 11 and 17, were returning from Obengkrom, a village where they had gone to harvest ginger.
The Assemblyman of Wuramuso, Ernest Karim, who narrated the incident to the Daily Graphic a day after it occurred, said even though the police had held a number of fora to sensitise the people to refrain from using tricycles to carry passengers, it had fallen on deaf ears.
To date tricycles are still seen carrying children, particularly from cottages, to access education in the various villages.
Volta Lake calamity
As the public was about to recover from the two shocking incidents, another shocking news about the loss of lives of eight schoolchildren from the Atikagome community in the Sene East District in the Bono East Region on the Volta Lake on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 came through.
The incident happened when a boat transporting 20 schoolchildren from the community to Wayokope, another fishing community, capsised on the Volta Lake, killing eight of them.
Officials from the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), said some people in collaboration with fisherfolk and officers of the Marine Police Unit saved 12 of the pupils, as they tried to swim to safety.
The deceased comprised five boys and three girls between the ages of five and 12, who could not overcome the strong waves of the lake to swim to safety.
Before NADMO got to the scene, all the eight bodies had been retrieved from the lake and sent to the Atikagome community, where they were buried later after some traditional rites had been performed.
No life jackets
A Field Officer of the MIHOSO International Foundation, Paul Tocha, who is working on a child trafficking project in the area, told the Daily Graphic that none of the children was wearing a life jacket.
He alleged that one of the schoolchildren was in charge of the boat when the incident happened at about 7 a.m. on that fateful day.
Mr Tocha said the children had been risking their lives on the Volta Lake by themselves with the canoe because one of them was good at using it.
Just after the incident, the Bono East Regional Minister, Kwasi Adu-Gyan, led a delegation to visit the Atikagome community to commiserate with the families of the victims.
He pledged the government's commitment to secure a dedicated boat for pupils at the community and explained that the boat would be manned by a trained operator to avoid similar incidents in future.
Mr Adu-Gyan said efforts were being made to provide life jackets for patrons to help ensure the safety and security of residents, particularly schoolchildren.
He said the Bono Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) also intended to construct a school block for the children in the area, to prevent them from crossing the lake to access education.
The Bono Regional Director of the Department of Children, George Yaw Ankamah, told the Daily Graphic that the accidents involving schoolchildren were due to systemic failures, explaining that if systems were working well such incidents would not be reoccurring.
“If systems are working well, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) under the Ghana Police Service will not allow school buses that are not roadworthy to transport schoolchildren to their school.”
“If systems are working well, schools will not overload the little children in the mini buses, as if they are not human beings,” Mr Ankamah stated and blamed parents of such schools for being partly involved in such overloaded incidents.
He explained that if systems were working, there would not be situations where schoolchildren without life jackets would travel on a boat manned by a child who had no expertise to cross the Volta Lake.
Mr Ankamah challenged Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), to comply with the Children's Act, 1998 (Act 560), which is the main policy document that protects children at the assembly level.
He explained that the act compelled district assemblies to protect and advocate the rights of the children found in their jurisdictions, and appealed to MMDAs to put in place measures to ensure the implementation of the act.
“We all have a role to play to protect children from all dangers, we must allow systems to work and not sit down and wait for unfortunate incidents to happen before we act,” Mr Ankamah said.
He expressed the need for the DVLA, MTTD, educational institutions as well as Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs), to collaborate to put proper measures in place to protect children from accidents.
Mr Ankamah said it was crucial for state institutions to plan, having children in mind, by preparing a safe environment to protect them in the society.
He said the department had rolled out a Preventive Child Protection Approach (PCPA) programme to save children from all forms of danger, including accidents.
Mr Ankamah said it was unfortunate that such horrific incidents happened to innocent children in their quest to seek education, adding that the situation was a concern to the department.
A 35-year-old parent in Sunyani, Joana Fofie, told the Daily Graphic that she was living in fear, following recent accidents involving schoolchildren.
She explained that she had two children who travelled with a school bus to school every day, making her uncomfortable anytime the children left for school.
Mrs Fofie said until her children returned home, she was always uncomfortable, especially when she heard of the accident involving a school bus.
She, therefore, appealed to state officials and other government institutions responsible for ensuring safety on the road to check the road worthiness of school buses, before allowing them to transport children to and from school.