Asante Kotoko’s July 12, 2017 fatal accident and the issues relating to the compensation of the victims (some of them who’re reportedly suffering from severe medical conditions now) won’t just go away. Yes, the matters won’t die because the club and its leadership seem to have ignored the sentiments of the victims.
Every year, the victims cry out to Kotoko’s leadership then and now, which fortunately, still has businessman and philanthropist, Kwame Kyei in there. He was the head of the club’s management at the time of the accident.
The victims insist no compensation was paid to them. That, they believe, is equal to disregarding the distressing experience they had on the night of the tragedy on the Accra-Kumasi highway – precisely the Nkawkaw stretch as they returned from a league game with Inter Allies at the El Wak Stadium.
Equipment officer of the club Thomas Asare died. The bus driver, Nana Berchie would survived with injuries that multiple surgeries took care of. Steve Pollack, then coach of the club also exited the hospital bed only after a surgery. Team Manager at the time, Godwin Ablordey and some players like Ollennu Ashitey were severely injured too.
Kotoko nicely footed the medical bills of the victims and that spelt an end to any form of care the victims would receive from the club. There were numerous donations in cash and kind from benevolent individuals, clubs, and corporate institutions to Kotoko as the public flooded the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) to show sympathy.
The victims, which include former goalkeeper’s trainer, Sampson Appiah, who today, says he’s suffering from a spinal cord injury resulting from the accident. I believe he must be heard and whatever concerns he and others have, appropriately addressed.
I was editor of the club’s newspaper, the Kotoko Express when the accident occured. I was privilleged to have first-hand sight of the victims’ stories. Months ago, touched by the story of the bus driver, I led a group of fans to contribute to paying his years of rent. I recall how this group of fans also organised to buy a phone and laptop for one of the Kotoko Express reporters who was on the bus that painful night.
Since watching Sampson Appiah’s 10-minute video in which he tells journalist, Dan Kwaku Yeboah, how he’s unable to walk, stand on his feet and the financial difficulty this has plunged him into, there’s the need for the club to interrogate his story and ascertain what assistance it can offer him. It shouldn’t be hard verifying his medical claims.
Appiah is grateful to ex-Kotoko players who’ve been supportive but it’s a pity that the club the once agile goalie played and subsequently served as a coach and at which time he was involved in the bus crash, leading to his plight now seem to have abandoned him. I’m not an orthopedic specialist to draw definite conclusions on Sampson Appiah’s post-accident diagnosis but from his teary account, he's not well. Kotoko can’t wish away the issues of the July 12, 2017 accident victims just like that.
As a matter of responsibility if not corporate liability, Kotoko must at least investigate Sampson Appiah’s case and that of all others and put this issue to a total rest. Until that’s done, the cries and moaning of the victims would be louder and continue to make Kotoko look like an uncaring, irresponsible entity. It’s a challenge I throw to the club’s Board especially. Look into the concerns of the July 12 accident victims, please.