Day death visited Onitsha:18 crushed to death in multiple accidents at Niger Bridge head

•One of the buses involved in the crash

Thursday February 16, 2012, was a day of death in Onitsha. Residents wailed and wept as 18 persons perished in a multiple auto crash at the foot of the Niger Bridge.

 The scene of the accident was flooded with blood. There was little anyone could do to either save the dying victims or to evacuate the dead. Sympathisers watched helplessly as many, who were trapped in the wreckage of the vehicles, agonised and died one after the other. Indeed, it was a gory sight to behold.

 Trouble began when a truck loaded with two 40-feet containers lost control and crushed over 18 people in the early hours of that fateful morning.

 Daily Sun gathered that street urchins, who were allegedly collecting emblem fees for the Anambra State Government, had accosted the truck with registration number XM 858 MUS as it was entering Onitsha from Asaba in Delta State. The emblem officials it was learnt worked shift duties: day and night at the bridgehead. They accosted the truck at the foot of the bridge by using a piece of wood with nails struck in it to deflate its tyres. The driver of the truck had wanted to avoid them but lost control of the vehicle, which rammed into other vehicles by the roadside.

 A source told Daily Sun that the urchins had devised very astute means of extorting money from drivers by adding night shift to their schedule. To make their work easy, they illuminated the spot with a mini generating set.
 “They stay here all day and night; even if you come into Onitsha by 2 am, you must pay them the emblem fee. The worst part of it all is that the state government has been deceiving people by saying those boys are not working for them. So, the question everyone is asking now is, who are the boys working for since they are not recognised by the state government?’’ he queried.

 It was gathered that seven vehicles were involved in the multiple accident. Four were commercial buses with registration numbers XA 556 BUR, XD 566 ABN, XA 893 ACA and AWK 526 XA. They were crushed just as many of their occupants were killed. Three private vehicles involved in the crash were going from Onitsha to Asaba. Some of them were also crushed beyond recognition; others fell into ditch.

 An eyewitness, Mrs. Rose Iwuno, was one of the survivors of the crash. She escaped from one of the mangled buses. She was going to buy wares at the Asaba Toll gate, when the incident happened. She reasoned that the accident could have been avoided, adding that if the urchins had not accosted the truck driver, the accident could not have happened.

 “We were going to Asaba, then suddenly, our driver noticed that the driver of the truck carrying two containers was struggling to control his vehicle. Our driver tried to escape it but it was already too late. Other vehicles were parked on both sides of the road. When the incident happened, most of us passed out. All I could remember was that I heard a heavy sound. That was when one of the containers from the truck fell off and crushed a bus in front of us before rolling down towards our own bus.”

 Mrs. Iwuno further said the 40-ft container fell off from the truck immediately the driver lost control. The truck skidded off the road and was then headed towards the opposite lane. It then rammed unto one of the heavy pillars at the bridgehead and somersaulted.

 “The number of casualties is unknownas it stands now. But look at that bus and see how it was smashed. I don’t think that anybody ever came out of it alive because the containers were very heavy. There was no help coming from anywhere the moment the incident happened. Even the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) were not around immediately to assist. So, the casualties figure definitely will be up to 20 people, ” she said.

 According to Daily Sun investigation, some of the victims of the multiple accidents were dismembered when the container fell on them. Some victims were said to have fallen into the ditch. An eyewitness said one of the victims, who was still trapped under the container, was seen gasping for air but non help could reach him.
 One of the victims, who was cut into two by the container, was heard screaming for help but when residents struggled to lift the heavy container, they couldn’t because it was too heavy for them. So, many sympathisers watched helplessly as the victims died slowly and painfully.

 It was also leant that four persons were sighted trapped under the container. It was a gory sight as their blood streamed out from the spot where they were trapped. Up till 8.30am, no help could reach them. There was no single officer of the FRSC to either help evacuate the injured victims or lift the container to evacuate the dead bodies. Daily Sun gathered that the accident took place in front of the office of the Onitsha Unit Command of the FRSC.

 Later, the incident took another dimension when an angry mob went on rampage and set the makeshift office of the emblem collectors ablaze. The urchins it was learnt took to their heels soon after the incident occurred.
 It took the intervention of the sympathisers and workers of the Consolidated Construction Company (CCC), who brought their heavy equipment, to lift the container and evacuate the dismembered bodies of the victims to an undisclosed mortuary. The injured ones were later rushed to hospital for treatment.

 A passer-by, Mr. Nick Nkwocha, who could not control his emotion, recalled that the accident was the second this year caused by the same emblem collectors. “They were also responsible for the accident at Upper Iweka where a lorry loaded with scraps fell on two persons and crushed them o death. What did the state government do? I read in the papers after the incident that those boys were not working for government. Can’t this government tell the people the truth and stop playing with the blood of innocent citizens? The state government needs to set up a panel of inquiry to actually ascertain who and who benefit from this carnage, which have been going on in this Onitsha.”

 According to Nkwocha: “There is need for the relatives of the victims of accidents that occurred as a result of the illegal activities of the so-called emblem officials to drag Anambra State Government to court on grounds of conspiracy and assemblage of an illegal group to maim and kill people.”

 “You see, there is an adage that says, ‘you can fool some people for some time but you can’t fool all the people all the time.’ There is need, therefore, for the relatives of all those wasted by those urchins to drag the Anambra State Government to court because it is the responsibility of the government to protect all the citizens. Secondly, the state government should be held responsible for the total breakdown of law and order caused by this killer-group which has caused the residents so much nightmare.”

 He also accused the law enforcement agents of connivance in the crime, saying there was no way the police would convince anyone that they had not been properly briefed about the activities of those boys. “Why then have they remained silent even in the face of this killing of innocent citizens? I am beginning to see that the police are involved this matter. Otherwise, those boys do not live in the air; they are very much here with us; the police see them; the army and even the state security services and other law enforcement agencies see them,” he said.

 Mr. Fredrick Oko, the new Unit Commander of FRSC, Onitsha, confirmed the multiple accidents. He said he was still collating the number of casualties, adding that he could only confirm two deaths.
 From EMMANUEL UZOR, Onitsha
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1 comment:

  1. This is terrible. I am not sure what exactly happened but looking at those pictures, I think it was a total wreck. My Arizona Personal injury lawyer wants to let you know that it was a pleasure reading this. He feels more inspired to hold cases like this.


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