Mr Dave Agbenu, Presidential Aspirant of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has called on managements of media houses to insure their workers especially journalists against road accidents and any other occupational mishaps.
The work of journalists is risky and therefore an insurance cover must be provided for them to fall on incase of any unforeseen eventuality, Mr Agbenu stated at the Tema Ghana News Agency and the Tema Motor Transport and Traffic Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service Road safety Campaign platform in Tema.
Mr Agbenu who is the Editor of the Ghanaian Times appealed to media institutions to make the safety of their journalists a priority by emulating the Ghanaian Times, which paid premium into a group insurance to protect and make their reporters safe whenever they were on the field covering assignments.
“There should be something that a reporter can fall on when something happens, but we know that most of the houses don’t have so when something happens they have to cater for themselves,” he said.
Speaking on the topic: “Impact of Road Crashes on Journalists and the role that media can play to reduce road accidents,” Mr Agbenu noted that Ghanaian Times lost a Presidential Correspondent, Samuel Nuamah in 2015 in line of duty through a road crash.
He said unfortunately since his death in a road crash at Shai Hills in a Presidential convoy which was returning from official event at the Volta Region, “we still do not know who the driver of the vehicle was, the cause of the crash, and whether it was insured or not”.
Mr Agbenu who was accompanied by Mr Norman Cooper, a Deputy News Editor of Ghanaian Times, added that a reporter from another media house who also sustained arm injury from the said accident is still receiving medical care with his own funding.
The GJA Presidential Aspirant noted that apart from road crashes, some journalists were beaten by security personnel, politicians and other persons in society just for doing their work, some are even killed, media houses must consider it as crucial to provide their reporters with the needed safety.
Recollecting his own experiences as a Presidential Correspondent for Ghanaian Times during the late President Jerry John Rawlings’ administration, he said, “As a castle correspondent I remember Rawlings travelled a lot into the hinterlands every week and we went with him.
“Convoy driving was the worse of my life, during that time accidents happened so many times, motor riders died, drivers died, and usually their vacant positions were filled immediately, I was lucky I didn’t die from any of those undertakings”.
Mr Agbenu said: “Presidential Convoy speed was just too much we have to speed to be at one place or the other, especially during election, while sometimes the President would be in the helicopter we have to chase him with a car and you don’t have to miss any story as those ones could be the biggest story of the day.”
He said the impact of road accidents on the journalism job was huge therefore making it imperative for media houses to provide logistics including transportation for their reporters to cover assignment to make journalists relevant and safe.
Mr Francis Ameyibor, Tema Regional Manager of the Ghana News Agency on his part said the media over the years suffered a lot of accidents on the job as sometimes organizers who used SUVs, V8 and other good vehicles provided rickety buses and pickups for the media to follow them with the same speed levels.
He said it was time that journalists refused joining such vehicles saying when reporters come back that they did not cover the assignment due to the bad nature of the vehicles, their editors and management must accept.
“We must change the dynamics and the way people look at us as journalists, we must indeed be recognized and treated as the fourth realm of the estate, it should not be a jargon, we deserve better,” he said.
Touching on the road safety campaign, he said the Tema GNA-Tema was working together with Tema MTTD to create a safe place on the road for users by using identifiable people and leaders to join in the fight by speaking to their own as people listen to their kind more than outsiders.