Imo: Season of Tears and Sorrow

Posted by on Nov 29th, 2017 and filed under AgwodInuju. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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The debasing scenario is reminiscent of a novice lace with orgy of violence where a caveat for viewer’s discretion is requested. It was a sorry sight where a second look may elicit tears, and sorrow moment. Scene was the Njaba bridge on the Owerri- Orlu road.

Charred bodies of car crash, burnt beyond recognition littered the accident spot. It was indeed a solemn moment when bodies of unidentified persons numbering 19 were found after a tanker loaded with gas engaged in a head-on- collision with a commercial bus. The commercial bus, an 18- seater one, fully loaded including the driver perished.

For first timers who raced to the scene of the incident after the inferno caused by the fuel tanker subsidized, what remained was only the charred bodies and burnt carcass of the two vehicles involved in the crash.

The next day, a mass burial was conducted for the victims of the accident near the scene on the road. The mass burial had   to be undertaken for families to lay claim to any of the cremated bodies.

Before people of Imo State were yet to recover from the Black Friday horror, another incident causing intense painful emotion occurred three days later. This time, not in the hinterland, but in Orji, a populous suburban area near the state capital, Owerri.

Reports have it that at one of the popular fuel stations on the Owerri-Okigwe road, a gas explosion sent about four people dead while few others got injured. The remains of the gas explosion victims are better not described because of the decapitated state of their lifeless bodies.

While a case of fire gutting a hotel on the same Owerri- Orji road could pass unnoticed because no life was lost in the process, the reported road crash on Owerri- Onitsha road involving another commercial bus where many of the passengers were sent early to their graves adds to the season of tears.

Apparently disturbed by the ugly incident, the state government through the media unit has sent out condolence messages to the families of the deceased.

But beyond these, one would pause to ask why the chain of unfortunate incidents, within one week, especially now the yuletide season is around. While, it will be unconventional to cave into certain superstitious belief that always dominate discussion in the public when related cases of this nature occur, suffice it to state that certain self- destructive tendencies cannot be ruled out from the disasters.

It has been discovered that certain norms in driving and road movement have been neglected with road users adopting unprofessional conduct. In most of the major roads across the road especially the newly constructed ones, there are no road signals and even where they exist, the drivers do not recognize or obey the rules. Ordinarily, motorists approaching a bridge like the Njaba River Bridge are expected to be encountered with precautionary signals indicating a bridge, proper markings and speed limit ahead.

Experiences in public transport system show that majority of road users neither recognize traffic signals nor obey them while driving on major roads. The absence of such signals and necessary road markings join to exacerbate road crash.

Knocks must also be given to the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, who may be blamed for improper enforcement of driving regulations. While, there is no attempt here to ridicule the operations of the FRSC, mention must be made of the existence of ill trained drivers and avalanche of vehicles unworthy to ply the roads. For a vehicle to move on Nigerian roads, the vehicle must pass through a test to obtain “Road Worthiness Particulars”.

Unfortunately, in the Nigeria transport system, vehicles owners do not submit their motors to the appropriate quarters for pre issuance checks. Rather, exchange of money is a prerequisite condition for issuance of Road Worthiness Particulars. The by-product of such abuse of due process is the incessant auto crashes witnessed on our roads. Most of the trucks, trailers and tankers do not possess the necessary appurtenances to move on the roads, but the FRSC and other agencies entitled to traffic control are unmindful of these irregularities.

The decision of the Imo State government to bar trucks, tankers and trailers from plying the roads in the state capital seem not to be enforced again as articulated vehicles are spotted everywhere in Owerri. Due to inconveniences posed by their presence, the state government banned their movement from 7am to 7pm daily.

More so, many of the commercial drivers are not properly trained to be behind the steering. While it is suspected that a handful graduate from conductor to driver, the rest have not visited a government recognized driving school to undergo training. The manner driver’s license is issued creates room for quacks and mediocre pretending to be drivers. The FRSC needs a wake-up call especially now Christmas and Festive season is approaching.

The Orji gas explosion will raise consciousness about the proliferation of gas plants and dispensing centers in the state. In recent times, gas centers have been spurting up in different locations, especially in the state capital. Residents are however disturbed if the necessary pre-establishment checks are carried out by relevant authorities. Was concern about location of the gas plants considered and if there was Environmental Impact Assessment EIA conduct before establishment? Was a relevant safety check in conducted and necessary pre explosion installments instituted before takeoff of operations? What were the capacity of the staff in terms of operation and management? Until some of these crucial questions are answered by the relevant bodies in charge of the establishment, our prayer is for God to intervene.

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