Kintampo MMT Bus Crush - Questions that Need Answers

I want to talk generally about transportation in Ghana but in the mean time, I want to limit myself to the Metro Mass Transit (MMT) in view of the recent road crush that occurred at Kintampo on the 17th of this month involving one of their buses. Some lingering questions on my mind need good answers.
My condolences to those who have lost relatives and loved ones.

I listened to an interview granted by a Director of Communication at the MMT to one of the local television networks after that crush. In the said interview, she sought to create the impression that the bus was in good condition to embark on that journey. She added that the crush would be investigated to ascertain the actual cause. She also hinted of fastracking payment of insurance claims to the victims. It sounds good, huh!

There are two main causes of road crushes: mechanical - tyre burst, brake failure being some examples and human factor - overspeeding, careless overtaking being a few examples. Whereas human factor element of accident is avoidable, mechanical causes of accidents are almost unavoidable!

I am one of the patrons of MMT buses. It's a fact I won't shy away from. It's fares are relatively cheaper as compared to those of other commercial vehicles.

There are many serious concerns I have about their operations though because I am very conversant with them. And this is the reason why I chose to write this article.

I think their operation is one of the most disorganized one I have ever seen. Yeah...it is! It is true to the extent that in our part of the world, we do things just any how without recourse to rules and regulations.

Having said the foregoing, let me do a little critical analysis about some of the concerns I have with their operations. And I want to begin with the claim being made by the Communication Director at the MMT. Here are some questions some of us would need answers to:

What kind of checks - tyre pressure, for example - are done on the bus before it sets off? Who carries out the checks? Is there a record showing the name of the competent technician who carries out the checks, time of the checks, registration number plate of the bus, including other findings, is the report signed off by the driver, the technician and the supervisor? Mind you, the electrical system must be checked by a qualified and competent auto electrician; tyre pressure by tyre specialist (vulcanizer); etc, etc. Is there a specific time table that is followed to carry out regular maintenance works on the buses?

Let me share with you a little about the condition of some of these buses. Some of the buses have defective driving mirrors while some do not have any.

Talk of glasses in the side windows on those buses and you would marvel at the sight! Some have rugged seats that create discomfort for the passengers.  And this is a state-own transport for Christ's sake!

The MMT buses have luggage compartments. A simple rule would have it in any civilized society that once the luggage compartments are full, no more luggage is acceptable!

But this is not the case with the MMT. The aisle that is supposed to be a passage for passengers is often filled with luggage making movement entirely impossible! This practice in itself poses a great danger to the passengers themselves in the event of an emergency especially during evacuation. Quite apart from that, those luggage on the bus also pose a greater threat to the survival of the passengers in case of a crush. So there is a big question about the safety of passengers. Can I ask this: What is the MMT doing about these things?

I think payment of insurance claims to victims of road crushes are tied to certain number of passengers that have been covered in such undertakings depending on the size of the vehicle. So, my other question, which I consider very serious, is how many passengers is the MMT bus supposed to carry? And why do the operators of the MMT allow passengers to stand when the seats in the bus are fully filled up creating unnecessary overcrowding on the bus?

Isn't the MMT operators taking the safety of their passengers for granted?

So, my conclusion is that the MMT management needs to adopt a much more wholistic approach that goes beyond checking the condition of the buses, something which I personally have a lot of reservations about.

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