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« Paris Club Calling: Ngige / Obi may have just won 18 Billion Dollars | Main | Overcoming the Fear that Holds Africans Down, Part 1 »

August 16, 2005

Carnage On Nigerian Roads: An Eye-witness Account

by Uche Nworah --- (London, UK) If you have ever heard the saying that the death of one person diminishes us, then you will truly appreciate its deep meaning after seeing these shocking images, and imagine that it could have been you, your friend, or family member lying under this 40-feet petrol tanker.

For the families of the 16 people that were crushed to death in this accident, no cries will ever ease their pain and no amount of condolences will bring back to life their loved ones, who lost their lives in a most horrific and horrendous manner.


Mangled bodies trapped beneath the truck

Even as they boarded the Mitsubishi L300 passenger bus with registration number: Akwa Ibom XA 554 KTE on the evening of Thursday, the 14th of July 2005, they must have been filled with a sense of joy, that they were finally going home from their different offices and places of work to their families, after another long hard day. Some of them may have dreamed of sitting out in the moonlight with their families for some late family dinner, others may have been looking forward to a forthcoming family or personal event, a wedding or naming ceremony or even to attending church service the coming Sunday.


Uche Nworah surrounded by angry villagers at the scene of the accident.

But all those dreams died, and with them the dream carriers. Their lives cut short by a combination of factors: human error, poor judgement, government maladministration, infrastructural decay and man’s inhumanity to man. Some of the villagers I spoke to blamed the cause of the accident on the driver of the petrol truck belonging to Total Nigeria PLC, who had mistimed an overtaking manoeuvre, others heaped the blame on the Nigerian government for neglecting the pothole – filled Aba/Owerri Express road, saying that if the road, one of the busiest in the eastern part of Nigeria had been dualised as planned, then there would be less risks of accidents.

According to another villager, the accident occurred between 7-8 pm, he said that the driver of the petrol truck which was travelling from Owerri to Aba had tried to avoid a pothole, and had then suddenly swerved to the left, and on to the path of the on-coming mini-bus, which was then already close by, the driver of the mini-bus had then out of desperation swerved sharply into the nearby bushes to avoid a head-on collision with the truck, but for whatever reasons, the driver of the truck lost control of the truck which then climbed on top of the mini-bus crushing all the passengers to death. There were still unconfirmed reports as to the fate of the driver of the truck by the time we arrived the scene, a few metres from the main gates of the Anambra-Imo River Basin Development Authority, in Agballa – Owerri, Imo state.


Villagers look on, bewildered and helpless.

Any hopes of rescuing any survivors must have been lost because of the slow pace of response of the largely under - funded and under-equipped ambulance and emergency services, who are not equipped to handle such tragedies and situations, little surprise then, that as at 10 am on Friday, in the morning of the day after the accident, no form of help or assistance had yet arrived the scene.

This is not an isolated case; there is so much death on Nigerian roads, as a result of a combination of the factors I earlier mentioned. This is again one of the many sad tales and tragedies that confront our people everyday, and another example of wasted opportunities in rural Africa.

This is not an isolated case; there is so much death on our roads, as a result of a combination of the factors I earlier mentioned. This is only one of the many sad tales and tragedies that confront our people everyday, and another example of wasted opportunities in rural Africa.

As for the families of the deceased who may have lost their 'bread winners', we can only pray for them, that is the much we can do for now, knowing that the true causes of the accident may never be officially determined, neither will those responsible be brought to justice, nor will they be made to pay any sort of compensation, but as a good corporate citizen, hopefully Total Nigeria Plc will not sweep this under the carpet. A case then for the many non- governmental organisations (NGOs)in Nigeria to pursue to its final conclusion.

Uche Nworah is a freelance writer and lives in London. uchenworah@yahoo.com

Posted by Administrator at August 16, 2005 08:38 AM

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