January 2014: Harvest Of Deaths In Auto Crashes in Cross River
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January 2014: Harvest Of Deaths In Auto Crashes in Cross River

Some of the accident scenes

by crossriverwatch admin

Some of the accident scenes
Some of the accident scenes

The figures and the stories of the carnage on roads in Cross River State in auto crashes during the month of January 2014 are not only mindboggling but also bespeak of the recklessness by motorists, especially commercial drivers on the highways as well as the terrible state of roads in the state.

Several fatal crashes along major highways and cities across the state resulted in many deaths with still more people being maimed or sustaining life threatening injuries on vital body parts.

These tragic accident scenes started right on the 1st of January while people were celebrating their entry into the New Year having crossed over from the previous year, 2013 to experience the 2014.

On that day two commercial vehicles collided head-on at Ogoja-Ndep, along the Ogoja Ikom highway, some four hundred kilometers from Calabar. The crash which occurred at about 7 pm left six people, mostly young girls dead on the spot.

The victims who were going from Ukele in Yala Local Government Area which borders Ebonyi State were on their way to Igoli, to celebrate the New Year with their loved ones but ended up dead on the road.

A twenty one year old girl, whose name was given as Imaji who joined the vehicle at Mbuk 1 on her way to Igoli to celebrate the New Year with her grandmother at Ishibori had her chest burst open and her heart pulled out from her ribs while the driver of the car she was in had his eyes gorged out following the impact of the collision.

A victim of the crash, Tony Olom, a final year student of Nasarawa State University whose two legs were broken and left mangled told CrossRiverWatch in his hospital bed at the General Hospital, in Igoli, Ogoja that he was the only one “alive in our car that was carrying six people. The girl who sat in front with the driver was torn to pieces; even her heart was packed from the ground and put into a leather bag by those who came to rescue us.”

With both legs still wrapped in plaster-of-Paris, POP, Tony who has missed writing his degree examination with the resumption of Universities owing to his fractured legs said the accident occurred because of over speeding. “Our vehicle was approaching the Ogoja-Ndep bridge and the driver had slowed down but the car coming from Igoli drove past the bridge on top speed and when he got close to us he lost control and the car rammed into our vehicle head on”. Tony said.

A week later, along the Calabar – Itu highway, nineteen people lost their lives when a truck crushed a bus carrying eighteen people on its way to Onitsha in Anambra State. The driver of the truck and the conductor were among those killed in the crash.

The accident, an eye witnessed, Peace Monday told CrossRiverWatch occurred when the Cross Link bus ferrying the eighteen passengers was descending the Obot Isong slope, at the approach to the Itu Bridge and suddenly a truck laden with rock chippings also from Calabar came right behind it on top speed apparently having failed brakes.

“The truck was going too fast and overtook the bus on the right side and since the bridge is narrow, this forced the bus on the lane of oncoming vehicles and incidentally, a truck was coming from the Akwa Ibom end of the road”

Face to face with the bus, the driver of the truck with registration number Akwa Ibom NGD 01 XA, also on top speed could not stop or control his truck to allow the bus to manoeuvre through so ran over the bus killing everybody except one lucky man who escaped with his life but sustained severe injuries.

The truck that forced the bus on the wrong lane also tore through the railings and plunged under the bridge with its tires facing the sky. “The driver and the conductor were removed from under the bridge dead but two other persons who sat behind the truck sustained serious injuries because they were flung very far from the truck to the bush”. Peace narrated.

When CrossRiverWatch visited the scene of the accident few hours after the crash, personal belongings like bags, shoes, clothes and consumables such as biscuits , coca cola, lacacera bottle were strewn everywhere round the accident scene.

Also in the second week of the New Year, a truck while trying to avoid a pothole ran over a bus at Ugep, Yakkur Local Government Area, killed the five passengers and set the bus alight.

Again, on the 21st of January, at PAMOL in the outskirts of Calabar, two speeding vehicles, a Volkswagen Jeta and a Toyota Hiace mini bus had a head on collision which left five people dead on the spot. The two carcasses of the vehicles were towed to the Odukpani Police Station.

Along the newly constructed Itigidi – Calabar highway, an accident on 26 January left another six people dead. Interestingly, behind the bleak statistics of the carnage, is agony of loss, costly funeral ceremonies by family members and friends of those who are killed in the accidents.

Mr. Albanus Nwachukwu, the Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, Cross River State attributed most of the accidents to wrongful over taking, over speeding and loss of control of vehicles by drivers. “Most of these accidents are preventable if the drivers are more careful and circumspect while on the road.”

He said overtaking on blind spots, that is, when the driver cannot see his front clearly can be dangerous and therefore should be avoided.

The Sector Commander said continuous enlightenment programs for drivers would drastically reduce accidents on the nation’s highways.

When contacted, the Pubic Enlightenment Officer of the Ikom Unit, FRSC, Mr. Cletus Ibete, also stated that continuous enlightenment campaigns on safe driving was the only key to reducing carnages on the nation’s highway.

He said the commission was worried about the rate of accidents involving heavy trucks and commercial vehicles along the Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja highway, adding that efforts would be made to encourage more campaigns on safe driving so as to stem the tide.

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