MP for North Tongu Constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
MP for North Tongu Constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

The Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is pushing for the declaration of a state of national mourning for the Dompoase crash victims.

Thirty-four persons including a baby under a year old perished in that car crash on the Accra-Takoradi road in the Central Region.

The accident occurred around 12 a.m. on Tuesday, 14 January 2020 when a Hyundai bus with registration number GN 3780 – 10 collided with a Man Diesel bus with registration number GR 5704 – 18.

A reporter with Elmina based-Brenya FM, Kojo Atta Abrowah, reported that the Hyundai bus, which was moving from Accra to Takoradi, overtook the Man Diesel bus, resulting in a fatal head-on collision.

In Mr Ablakwa’s view, many countries declare a state of national mourning for far less casualty numbers.

Citing examples, he said, “last week Ukraine declared a day of national mourning after losing 11 nationals when Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was brought down by an Iranian missile.

“After the 17th April 2019 Madeira tour bus crash in Portugal which claimed 29 lives, Portuguese authorities announced three days of national mourning.

“Burkina Faso at the just-ended Christmas festivities announced 2 days of national mourning after a similar loss – the killing of 35 nationals in motorbike terrorist attacks…”

“Last year, specifically on the 22nd of March, 2019 about 90 Ghanaians perished in two horrific accidents which the media aptly described as “Black Friday.” We did not declare a single day of national mourning for any of these,” he bemoaned.

Mr Ablakwa noted that the declaration of national mourning is a statement on the value nations place on the lives lost; and it allows for an entire nation to show grief in a more structured manner through a series of activities and quite importantly, raises the stakes on what needs to be done to avert such occurrences.

“It also tends to show in most instances that the people in that nation do not view the tragedy as a normal or acceptable development,” he added.

Mr Ablakwa said Ghana needs to develop consistent protocols on such matters especially when it involves the masses.

He said authorities must show “beyond empty rhetoric” and by “concrete policy interventions” that they truly value the lives of all Ghanaians.

“I recall following the June 3rd disaster of 2015 which claimed 154 lives, President Mahama declared three days of national mourning and released GHS60 million for victims. President Kufuor did same by declaring three days of national mourning when we lost some 127 football fans in the Accra Sports Stadium disaster. He later set up a commission of enquiry. Those were commendable responses.

“In more recent times under President Akufo-Addo, a state of mourning has been befittingly declared when former Vice President Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur and UN Secretary-General, Busumuru Kofi Annan passed. This followed a tradition since the death of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah on April 27, 1972 when May 19 was declared a National Day of Mourning and a public holiday all in the Osagyefo’s honour at the time.

“May it not be said that we are beginning to accept such tragedies as normal and also that for ordinary folks except they perish in their hundreds and over, there shall be no serious national commemoration of their loss,” he said.

The lawmaker stated that it is time to reject the creeping normalcy attending such national tragedies and establish a more consistent and humane protocol on how the nation, particularly the state reacts to such national catastrophes involving ordinary folks.