The death of about 52 cows last Sunday, in Kagarko LGA of Kaduna state, was initially shrouded in controversy, until the Commissioner of Police, Kaduna state said it was an Abuja- bound Kaduna train that crushed the cattle on a bridge at Kasarami along Jere, in Kaduna.
ABDULRAHEEM AODU reports how the passengers went into panic fearing that terrorists had struck and derailed the train
Kaduna-Abuja train crushes 52 cows, injures 27 A Kaduna-Abuja passenger train last Sunday crushed to death 52 cows when it collided with a herd of cattle on a bridge at Kasarami along Jere, Kagarko local government areas of Kaduna state, leaving 27 cows injured.
The herdsmen leading the cattle from Ilorin in Kwara state to Funtua in Katsina states, having slept in Kasarami were misinformed by the local people that the train does not pass on Sundays.
Thus, they decided to cross the bridge that morning, but unfortunately, they were in the middle of the bridge when the train heading to Abuja approached the area.
While the train, unable to detour from its track, continued on its way, the cows have nowhere to run to, many of them collided with the train and 52 were killed, 27 sustained various injuries and had to be put to sleep by the herders.
The herdsmen, however, escaped from the accident as they all jumped off the bridge upon hearing of the train’s approach.
Feared terrorist attack on Kaduna-Abuja train There was palpable fear of terrorist attack by passengers aboard the Kaduna-Abuja train that departed Kaduna for Abuja, at 10:35am last Sunday as they started hearing unusual sounds and feeling as if the train is under bomb attack.
The passengers, which included top government functionaries, elites and common people some with their families, in their fright went into panic mode and started calling their families, friends and security agents to seek help and rescue from the terrorists.
One of the calls got to the police high command, as the Kaduna state Police Commissioner, Ahmad Abdulrahman immediately mobilized officers and men and embarked on a rescue mission to Kasarami near Jere to rescue the train passengers.
On getting to the scene, the police realised it was an accident that involved herds of cattle travelling from Kwara state to Katsina state, using the train bridge to cross a river, unknowingly while the train was passing.
Passengers panicked over perceived terror attack One of the passengers, Mr Kehinde, an Abuja based civil servant who works with FCDA, said they were approaching Jere when they started hearing unusual sounds, as well as feeling the train buckle as if it was hitting strong obstacles, and rocking as if it was about to fall.
Kehinde who sat in the third coach added that, “we started hearing heavy sounds like explosions, then the train was shaking and rocking, as we were wondering what was happening, the people in the first and second coached started shouting that we were under terrorist attack.
“We all became afraid and we’re praying in our different ways calling on God to save us.
Some of us started calling people that we know; our loved ones, security agencies and friends to tell them that we were under terrorist attack in the train and to see how they can help rescue us from the attack.
“This terrible experience continued for a long time and we were all terrified and screaming and praying then we started seeing the cows through the windows in large numbers, as if they were cut open and bombs and explosives were planted inside them and the bombs were exploding as we passed.
“Then, an announcement came through the train loudspeaker that there is no problem everything is OK, we should remain calm.
This made us all more afraid, the windows cannot be opened and we don’t know what to expect outside, we would have contemplated jumping out through the window.
“The fact that the train did not stop gave us small hope, but we don’t know what was coming ahead so, the announcement did not calm us down instead it made us more afraid.
We were really cowed until we reached Kubwa in Abuja, then we became calmer and later we were told what really happened.
“It was an experience we would never forget, even when I reached home I was still feeling the fear.
In my system “ .
Kaduna police commissioner sues for calm Kaduna state Commissioner of Police, Ahmad Abdulrahman has called on residents of the state to go about their businesses peacefully noting that there was no terror attack in Jere but train accident.
Speaking after he returned from the scene of the accident, the CP said he has called the farmers and herders in the area together and discussed with them to avoid conflict of any form.
The CP said “at about 11:45 am on Sunday, the command received a distress call of terror attack in Kasarami in Jere district, Kagarko local government area of Kaduna state, and i personally led principal staff of the Command to the spot.
“When we got to the spot, we find out that contrary to earlier calls of insurgents attack what actually happened was an accident and not a terror attack as we were earlier informed.
Fulani herders and cattle travelling from Ilorin to Funtua “The Fulani herdsmen on their way back to Katsina state passed the night at Kasarami and asked if they could cross over the bridge with their cattle but were misinformed that there is no rail services on Sunday.
“It was when they were halfway through the bridge that a fast moving train from Rigasa station on its way to Abuja approched.
The train was on a high speed and in the process crushed to death 52 cattle and 27 that were still alive were ordered to be slaughtered and sold out to reduce the loss on the herdsmen.” Having confirmed that it was not terrorist attack, the CP appealed to residents of Kaduna state to go about their businesses calmly and in peace.
“I want to assured the good people of Kaduna state that what happened was an accident and no life was lost only the cattle.
“I called on the people of Kaduna state to go about with their lawful activities as the command is doing everything to ensure that lives and property are protected in the state.
I had a meeting with the Fulani leaders and the farmers in the area in other to check future occurrence.” The Fulani herdsmen on their way from Ilorin to Funtua were said to have taken the bridge route to avoid the rapidly moving river drowning the cattle, not knowing that they are about to incur greater losses.
They were reportedly saying that “it is the will of God”.
Avoiding future accidents The federal government has taken measures to avoid such accident by building a fence round the train tracks all the way from Abuja to Kaduna but the project, undertaken by Chinese company, CCECC, is far from completion.
The accident is expected to impact on the project by increasing the pace of work to ensure it quick completion considering that such herds of cattle migration will be more rampant as soon as the rains are over in October.