How drivers’ recklessness causes accidents on Enugu-Abakaliki Road
My escape, an act of God, says survivor
From Emmanuel Uzor, Abakaliki
The Enugu-Abakaliki expressway is becoming a highway that leads to death and disabilities. Many are those that have lost life and limb on the road.
Recently, there was a multiple crash along the road, with 19 persons despatched to their graves unceremoniously.
Enugu to Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State, is a distance of about 60 kilometres. But lives have been wasted and many homes plunged into misery due to deaths and injuries on the road. The scariest thing about the road is that it is, perhaps, the best road in the South-East, and many people have been wondering why lives are lost on such a smooth, porthole-free road.
The accident-prone spots along the expressway include the Nkalagu axis, the Ezilo axis, Ntezi and the Ezzamgbo junctions in Ishielu and Ohaukwu local government areas of the state.
The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), perhaps not oblivious of these accident-prone areas, constructed a unit command at Nkalagu to serve as rescue centre for any victim of accidents along the federal highway.
The recent multiple accident, as confirmed by the Sector Commander of the FRSC, Sunday Inyama, was avoidable, if the drivers of the ill-fated vehicles had obeyed the rules and basic driving ethics. The crash occurred when a Sienna mini-van, fully loaded, travelling from Awka to Abakaliki, somersaulted several times and plunged into the bush at Ezilo.
A survivor of the accident, who gave his name as Ezekiel, from his hospital bed at the emergency unit of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, narrated how the accident occurred. He blamed the driver of the vehicle for the accident. He said as he and other passengers left Awka, Anambra State, in the white van, but they discovered that the driver was reckless. The passengers tried several times to warn him to be more careful but all the warnings fell on deaf ears.
He said that the accident was very avoidable if only the driver had kept to the rules of driving, adding that it was while attempting to overtake another vehicle at high speed that their van was confronted by an oncoming bus from the Abakaliki axis. He said the driver lost control of the vehicle, which went towards the Sienna already ahead of them, and the driver of the Sienna then lost control when the vehicle skidded off the road and somersaulted several times before landing in the bush.
The ill-fated Sienna forced its way through the bush, getting mangled in the process. The bus that was coming from Awka then had a head-on collision with another bus from Abakaliki and many lives were lost.
“Our driver was the cause of the accident. The accident was avoidable if he had listened to us. Because his bus was new with a good engine, he was racing as if we were going to heaven. We warned him many times, but he wouldn’t listen. He was even fiddling with his mobile phone and after answering a call, he put it back into his pocket. When I noticed we were in for trouble was when we negotiated the bad portions of Enugu-Awka expressway and got to Emene where the road is very smooth. The driver started speeding like an aeroplane. It was when he tried to overtake the Sienna that he saw an oncoming bus from the opposite direction. He probably tried to apply brakes but it failed, we then rammed into the bus and almost everybody in both buses died on the spot.”
Though there were survivors, including a two-year-old boy, whose mother was seriously injured, eyewitnesses said the multiple crash led to the highest fatality ever recorded on the road since its reconstruction by the Federal Government, under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
It was gathered that a total of 19 persons died in the accident before the one that occurred at 135 Ezzamgbo, involving the bus of a popular commuter transport company heading to Abakaliki.
Prince Ogbonna, a staff of The Sun Publishing limited working in the Abakaliki office, was among the only two survivors of the ghastly accident at 135 Ezzamgbo when the bus he was travelling in also somersaulted, resulting in serious casualties.
Ogbonna, Sales Representative of The Sun, Abakaliki, had gone to the Enugu zonal office and was on his way back when the road crash occurred.
He said the driver of the bus was trying to avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming trailer when it lost control and skidded off the road and somersaulted several times, leading to the death of many passengers.
An eyewitness said a Mercedes Benz car was dangerously parked along the road very close to the School of Nursing. The driver of the commuter bus was on high speed and, as he tried to avoid the parked car, he came dangerously close to the oncoming trailer and lost control of the bus.
Ogbonna said: “I was hearing all sorts of noise in the vehicle. People were shouting ‘Jesus! Jesus!’ Everywhere became dark in my eyes, and that was when the driver was battling with the vehicle. Finally, I heard a loud sound and our bus started somersaulting from the one side of the lane to the other. That was how the bus was mangled to the extent that people were surprised that somebody survived in the crash.”
It took the intervention of two good-hearted individuals, including a commercial motorcycle operator, to evacuate Ogbonna, who was lying in a pool of blood among the dead passengers, to the nearby Ndubuisi Clinic, at 135 Ezzamgbo, where he was resuscitated. His head injuries were also attended to there before he was taken to the emergency unit of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki.
While at the hospital in Abakaliki, FRSC personnel brought in many victims of the multiple crash. Many of them that were already dead were taken straight to the morgue.
The driver of the mass transit bus conveying Ogbonna and others to Abakaliki was among those brought into the theatre. He was confirmed dead by medical doctors because of the severe head injuries he sustained during the crash.