I wept when I read the news, not because of the numbers, but because it didn’t occur to the people running this country that they need to pause, reflect, announce national mourning, and perhaps prepare for a state burial for the departed souls! So 76 compatriots; heads of families, mothers, students, workers of the state going to contribute their quota for a token, go quiet in a day, and everything is going on smoothly! Heer Ama Ghana!
I couldn’t understand because, as I reflected over the most recent incident in human history, to have triggered a mass burial and countrywide mourning, my checks showed it involved “only” 50 persons in New Zealand! “Just” 50! Their death triggered a countrywide mourning, quick changes to state schedules and activities. Some state businesses were even suspended. That is how much a New Zealand life cost!
So, does the lives in New Zealand cost that much than those in Ghana? Look at it oo? Does a New Zealand life matter that much to warrant our parliamentarians who are millions of miles away in Ghana to hold a minute silence for the departed, but not our own parliament holding same for the 76? Heer? Where did we all sleep a night before the accident? Jeez!!! But hold on, I think I mustn’t be surprised!
Missing data on citizen’s worth
In Ghana, the government doesn’t have basic information on its citizens. Simply put, the government doesn’t know you and I exist. They know our population, for election purposes. This makes it challenging for them to know the value of each of the 30 million plus in terms of their contributions to the state in the area of taxes or other contributions.
That’s why! If the state had known, it could have quantified how much it has lost through the accident which claimed over 76 lives. Look, it would have shaken the state machinery, knowing the shortfall in projected revenues that will be staggering their faces. But see, nothing is happening! No one knows their worth. At best, they will only know the voter’s register will surely have over 76 dead persons, and a simple exercise to remove those names will be carried out soon by the electoral commission. So no worries! Some tears from a transport minister and some toiletries will do, and Ghanaians will be fine!
I repeat, if you want to die, die right like Captain Mahama whose wife had over Gh500, 000 in a fund and a national burial, or in a group perhaps more than 200! Some lives mater, others don’t!
This state irresponsibility has trickled down to the transport operators at the various stations themselves! No one keeps records of the people they are carrying. Airlines do, but cars feel it’s too cumbersome to go through that!
I recalled making similar conclusions on the June 3, 2015, fire and flood disaster! If the state knew the value of a nurse in terms of their contribution to tax, we would have behaved more appropriately, and perhaps taken more drastic measures than how we handled, only for another gas explosion to kill and injured dozens at Atomic Junction and GHUMCO in Takoradi.
Victim’s dependents data missing
You see, the MTTD does so well in majoring in the minors. They have since 1991 been publishing the number of persons killed or maimed in road accidents. The department and perhaps governments of those periods have shown that they are only interested in knowing the numbers; whether the cases are going up or down, not necessarily to use the data to create a social support plan for dependents of all those victims. Do you see the number of people dead through motor accident since 1991? How are their dependents faring?
You, see, the dead person is gone. But people who had reasons to continue living because those persons were alive are those who suffer the most. So instead of knowing and just reporting just the numbers, let the numbers remind us of persons going to be without fathers and mothers! In today’s Ghana, even with mothers and fathers, how is it, let alone losing them in a motor accident? So to be able to focus on the dependents, we need extended data collection on accidents. It must be difficult for the state to do this!
MTTD officers should provide data on the background of the dead. So for example, in the case of the Kintampo accident, the MTTD would have ascertained the name of the victims, the occupation, net salary of each victim (determined from the work each of them do), number of immediate dependents, the weekly, monthly or annual tax contributions of the dead to the state etc.
This information would have informed the government of how the loss of lives affect its projected annual returns, how safety discussions should be elevated, the persons that are to be rolled onto a state-sponsored social support fund annually, and strict compliance in the area of safety. Straight forward!
I can say that if this rigorous data collection is done, and support is offered for dependents of such mass victims, this state would have requested DNA samples of the persons who burnt beyond recognition. They wouldn’t have been buried hurriedly as they came from no home, and to identify their relatives for support.
As it stands now, because the victims were working for themselves and not the state, it is their families who will bear the brunt. It is their children who have had to buckle up for truncated hopes without any immediate refuge!
Fellow Ghanaians, at this stage, let me submit to us that, if 76 people died in a day, in two separate horrific accidents and it did not trigger a national mourning, a thorough investigations by a commissioned body(especially when in 2016, a similar number of deaths were recorded on the same stretch), present its findings for a national review of road transport on the stretch, then there is something extremely more important other than human lives that is taking our attention, and the earlier we figure that thing out, the better we stand the chance to gross over such deaths!
Be careful, or die right
Let me also submit to us that, with this information, we need to be extremely careful about how we move. If you want to die, probably you may want to die with a group of people more than 200 or be an influential person’s loved one, if not, consider yourself a Kintampo victim!
By: obrempong Yaw Ampofo/ourstorisonline.com