Less than four months ago, a petrol tanker fire killed 69 persons in Onitsha. Now a lorry accident has claimed 25 lives in another community in the state, NWANOSIKE ONU reports
On May 31 some 69 persons died in a petrol tanker fire; 15 vehicles were burnt. Now 25 souls have died in a lorry crash. Sorrow has been so painfully defined in Anambra State lately.
Since last week, the people of Umuchu community have been counting their losses after a lorry crashed in the community. Apart from the dead, many others were injured.
It was during the closing ceremony of the New Yam festival in the community, being celebrated in each village after the general one by the entire community.
Five masqueraders were said to be among the dead.
It was said that 11 of those who died in the accident hailed from Umuchu, while others were from other communities like Umunze in Orumba South council. Two others died in the hospital, it was said.
From the 13 in Umuchu who lost their lives, eight were from one village named Ibughugu.
The accident shocked the community, forcing Governor Willie Obiano to shelve his official duties to rush to the community early the following morning.
The governor visited some of the injured at the Divine Mercy Hospital, where he told the traditional ruler of the community Igwe Goddy Ezechukwu and some of the leaders of the area that he would pay the bills of all the victims.
The Umuchu community has been meeting to organise an interdenominational service for the deceased tomorrow (Saturday) at the Umuchu Town Hall.
Speaking with The Nation on the arrangement, the chairman of the memorial service committee, Hon Ezeafulukwe Chukwuma said the community had sent letters to Governor Obiano, the state House of Assembly, members of the National Assembly, among others, adding that it was to accord them full respect.
Chukwuma commended Obiano for his quick intervention on the incident, as well as for picking up the hospital bills of the victims.
On Monday, the committee met with all the families of the victims to discuss modalities of the memorial service.
He said, “It is not going to be mass burial for them by the community but a memorial service and after that, each family now goes to bury their own.”
Apart from Obinao’s visit, one of the prominent sons of the community, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, who accompanied the governor to the scene of the incident and hospital, lamented that what befell his community was calamity.
Ezeemo who contested the governorship election in 2010 on the platform of Progressives People’s Alliance (PPA), is the leader of the party in the state.
He said commercial drivers need comprehensive driving tutorials as a way of checkmating incessant auto crashes.
Ezeemo said, “Though every motorist needs proper driving lessons but those on commercial driving need it more because their mindset once on steering appears to be something else, as most of the auto crashes could be avoided if the drivers are well trained.”
He expressed concern over the frequent multiple accidents in the state, referring to the last that claimed almost a whole family at Agu-Awka axis of the state.
He also called on the members of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) in the state to take their jobs seriously by ensuring that vehicles are roadworthy.
He said that the crash involving a haulage truck, two Sedan cars and an 18-seater bus at Afor Ibughubu village in Umuchu was heartbreaking as it could have been avoided if proper road signs were marked.
Also he advised that people and masquerades should contend themselves in the village square during traditional festivity that displays masquerade as rural areas were getting fast development that exposes such celebrations to modern dangers.
He commended the people of Umuchu Alanso for not taking laws into their hands when the auto crash occurred in spite of their grief, according to him, they handed the driver of the lorry to the police in place of lynching him.
The monarch of the community, Igwe Goddy Ezechukwu told The Nation that he lacked words to describe what happened on the day.
He said the community is going through pains and agony.
He asked, “Do you know what it means losing such a number of people in one day in a community?” (Th Nation)