The ember months usually come with an upsurge in economic activities, including frequent travels and other activities to generate money for celebration of the yuletide. These activities and frequent travels often lead to increase in road accidents and consequent loss of lives often attributed to the conspiracies of blood-sucking ‘vampires.’ PAUL OKAH writes.
The months of September, October, November and December always regarded as ember months bring with them an increase in economic activities in order to celebrate the yuletide (Christmas and New Year) with friends and family members, but some often die in the process on the nation’s roads.
The frequent life-claiming accidents on Nigerian roads are often linked to the activities of some people who are bent on making money through rituals (vampires), who strategise on ways of getting human blood in exchange for fat cash.
In a chat with this reporter, a social commentator, Fidelis Edafe, said the construction and rehabilitation of roads by state and federal governments will minimise accidents, even as he advised motorists to think of safety first before flouting traffic rules.
He said: “Road accidents are usually as a result of many factors, including human and natural. While many are avoidable, others are just natural and predestined. For example, many motorists, despite all the precautions they take, still die on our Nigerian roads as a result of the fault of other road users.
“It is disheartening to some so called experienced drivers making calls while on the wheel. Many times, people received shocking and disturbing news while on the phone, leading to loss of concentration and consequent accident. Oftentimes, bystanders and traders by the roadside have been killed through no fault of theirs, but simply because a driver opted to be careless while on the road.
“On the other hand, bad roads have also contributed to road accidents. Oftentimes, you encounter potholes on the highway, which is not supposed to be so. A driver on high speed will happen on the pothole and then forced to brake suddenly, leading to avoidable mishap, including the death of drivers and passengers.”
He added: “Those who believe in juju say that there are some roads in different parts of the country that often require sacrifices of human blood, hence people die on certain portions of the road at certain times, but that is neither here nor there. If drivers avoid speeding, drunk driving and other carelessness, I believe majority of road accidents will be minimised.
“Sadly, over the years, people have learnt not to obey traffic rules, thereby endangering their lives. As Christmas approaches, you will see commercial drivers overloading vehicles and embarking on different journeys that will eventually lead to their deaths, as a result of flouting traffic rules. My advice is for FRSC officials to be more stringent, instead of lenient on erring motorists. This is will go a long way to save lives.”
On October 31, this year, while many people were looking forward to a better November, tragedy struck in Enagi, headquarters of Edati local government area of Niger state, when two tankers collided leaving scores of people burnt to ashes and shops razed down.
One of the tankers was said to be carrying diesel, while the other was loaded with petrol. The two tankers were said to have gone into flames immediately they collided with each other, which led to the burning of roadside shops along the busy highway. Many people in the shops and others close to the incident were trapped and burnt to ashes while others sustained various degrees of injuries.
“What I can tell you is that we have seen three corpses while many others were seen burnt beyond recognition. We have also seen six motorcycles and three vehicles also burnt at the scene,” one of the eyewitnesses, who identified himself as Abubakar, told reporters.
Another resident, Usman Baba Emigi, described the incident as “unfortunate,” saying that the villagers looked helplessly as they could not go close to the shops to salvage some of the goods’ He said further that similar incidences had happened in the town in the past with many casualties, with shops and residential houses razed down.
Nevertheless, on November 8, barely a week after several people were roasted and some shops completely razed at Enagi, nine people were reportedly burnt beyond recognition in another accident involving two cars and two trailers in the Edati area of the state.
According to an eyewitness, a speeding Sharon bus rammed into a trailer heading to Minna and burst into flames with another trailer and a commercial car running into the inferno.
The witness said, “The Sharon Commercial bus, which was overloaded with passengers, mainly traders heading for Kudu village for the weekly market, was on top speed when it ran into the trailer coming from the opposite direction and burst into fire immediately. Two other trailers and car also rammed into the burning vehicles and also burst into flames.
“The conductor of the trailer carrying planks sustained serious injuries and was rushed to General Hospital, Kutigi. The other car was buried under the other trailer which was still burning several hours after the accident happened.”
When contacted, the Sector Commander of Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mohammed Musa Ahmed, said he was yet to be briefed on the incident and promised to get back to journalists later on.”
On November 7, the sector commander of the FRSC in Anambra state, Mr. Adeoye Irelewuyi, said an accident involving two vehicles at Okeohia on Ihialla-Owerri expressway claimed the life of a male adult.
According to him, the accident could be attributed to speeding and loss of control.
“The fatal crash involved an unidentified driver of a Nissan commercial bus with registration number NKK 314 VT and unidentified driver of a Trailer with no registration number. Eyewitness report indicates that the bus driver was carrying illegal crude oil and was speeding. As a result of excessive speed, he rammed into a stationary trailer.
“The trailer driver on seeing what had happened immediately entered his vehicle and drove off. Five persons were involved in the crash, including four male adults and one female adult. The corpse of the bus driver was taken to Our Lady’s Mortuary in Ihiala after he was confirmed dead by the doctor on duty,” he said.
While condoling with the family of the dead, the Sector Commander urged motorist to obey traffic regulations and maintenance safe speed limit to prevent road accidents.
FRSC’s warnings, admonitions
As the agency saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the safety of motorists on Nigerian roads, the FRSC has lamented the increase in Road Traffic Crashes (RTCs) over the months, warning drivers to obey traffic rules in order to save their lives and other road users from untimely deaths.
On November 7, the Kwara Sector Commander of the FRSC, Jonathan Owoade, said, out of the 61 RTCs in the state in September (25) and October (36), 48 lives were lost in the crashes in October, while no life was lost in September.
He said in September, out of 25 crashes involving 37 vehicles, 18 cases were serious, while seven cases were minor, adding that of the 157 persons involved in the crashes, 68 persons were injured, while there was no death.
He attributed the crashes to brake failure (BFL); speed violation (SPV); loss of control (LOC); speed limit violation (SLV); wrong overtaking (WOV) and mechanically deficient vehicles (MDV).
Owoade added that negative attitude and negligence to road safety rules by motorists were some of the challenges of road safety in the country.
He cited failure to indicate signal before turning or pulling out of a lane, managing defective vehicles and other unsafe acts, were some of the bad driving habits often exhibited by motorists.
“In October, there was an increase in RTCs in the state. We had 36 crashes involving 62 vehicles, 16 fatal cases, 17 serious cases and three minor cases. While 257 persons were involved, 139 persons were injured. Sadly, 48 persons lost their lives.
“Drivers and road users are advised to follow laid down road safety procedures, obeying traffic signs, keeping the vehicle well maintained and clean. Don’t do anything that will distract your attention while on the wheels, especially making phone calls or drunk driving. Avoid overloading, speed violations and dangerous driving. Let us drive safely to stay alive,” he said.