Ambitious targets responsible for accidents involving commercial drivers
It has emerged that frequent fatal accidents involving commercial vehicles from Garu in the Upper East Region that travel to the southern parts of the country were a result of ambitious targets vehicle owners give to their drivers.
Since 2019, a total of 127 persons have been killed, while dozens sustained varied degrees of injuries in road accidents that involved commercial vehicles that plied mainly the Garu-Kumasi and Garu-Accra roads.
One of such horrifying accidents occurred on Friday, March 22, 2019, when a commercial bus from Garu collided with another bus at Kintampo, which was also travelling to the Upper East Region. One of the buses burnt into ashes leading to the death of 50 passengers, including the drivers.
On February 3, 2021, 18 persons were killed at Sarikyikura near Fufulso on the Buipe-Tamale highway, when two commercial buses – one from Kumasi to Garu and another from Zebila to Kumasi were involved in a head-on collision. In that accident, a man lost his wife and 2 children, with 45 others sustaining severe injuries.
Again, two persons were killed on February 18, 2021 at Sarikyikura in the Central Gonja District of the Savanna Region when a mini bus traveling from Garu to Kumasi was involved in an accident. Aside these recounted accidents, there had been others in similar ways that contributed to the loss of the 127 lives.
The causes of these fatal accidents are many, but the caretaker District Chief Executive of Garu, Emmanuel Asore Avoka, has revealed that ambitious targets given to long distance drivers in the district were mainly the causes of these accidents.
In an interview with this reporter, Mr Avoka said many commercial vehicle owners set targets as high as GH¢10,000 to GH¢12,000 for a driver to meet as sales per week. In their bid to achieve such targets, Mr. Avoka observed, the drivers were compelled to overwork, leading to fatigue driving and consequently accidents on the roads.
He said: “One of the reasons for which a driver would like to make a U-turn to Kumasi or Garu would be that the vehicle owner has given the driver an amount of GH¢10,000 to produce within a week. And then whatever is surplus from the travels within that week becomes the salary of the driver.
“So the driver has to go through a lot of fatigue and sleepless nights to ensure he makes about 4 to 5 trips within the 7 days of the week. And you’re aware that these are buses with just a single driver. You can be sure that driver fatigue is going to be prime, and when driver fatigue sets in, then sleep takes over.”
Mr. Avoka also said because of the stress put on the drivers by the vehicle owners, the drivers resorts to drinking substances so as to keep them awake throughout their journeys, and that was also resulting in the accidents.
While long term remedies were being sought to end these accidents, the DCE has said the District Security Committee (DISEC) has taken these measures: No driver would be allowed to arrive in the morning and return the same day to Kumasi or Accra, every bus must have two drivers, all drivers must go for eye examination, driver’s license would be checked to ensure only qualified drivers were allowed to drive.
DISEC has also directed all conductors or collectors at the unions become responsible in assisting the police to get relevant information to help them bring sanity into the transport sector in the area.
Meanwhile, the DCE has hinted there would be frequent engagements with drivers and their vehicle owners in Garu to ensure compliance of all measures that have been put in place.