By Ibironke Ariyo/Stanley Nwanosike
Abuja/Enugu, April 9, 2023
All the 15 occupants of a Toyota bus were killed and burnt beyond recognition on Saturday when the bus had a head-on collision with a Mercedes truck on the Port Harcourt-Enugu Highway.
Spokesman of the FRSC, Assistant Corps Marshal Bisi Kazeem confirmed the accident in a statement he issued on Sunday in Abuja.
Kazeem stated that the accident took place at the Enugu end of the highway at about 8.20 p.m.
“The victims have been given mass burial. All obstructions have been cleared. Enugu State Fire Service already extinguished the fire in the bus.
“The fatal crash is blameable on several factors including fatigue, which must have made one of the drivers to sleep on the wheels,’’ he stated.
Kazeem quoted the FRSC Corps Marshal, Mr Dauda Biu as advising motorists to desist from night journeys to reduce fatalities from road crashes.
He added that Biu noted that most fleet operators and other vehicle owners, including private vehicle owners addicted to night journeys did so for selfish economic gains.
The FRSC boss observed that most night travellers indulged in overloading of vehicles with passengers and goods.
“Travellers should plan their journeys for the day time because when crashes occur away from FRSC rescue points, it is difficult to access help from other motorists at night,’’ Kazeem also quoted Biu as saying.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in Enugu State, CP Ahmed Ammani, on Sunday, ordered full investigation into the accident which occurred along the Ituku community axis of Awgu Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
Ammani prayed for the repose of the souls of the victims lost in the accident, which occurred at about 8:30pm on Saturday.
This is contained in a statement issued on behalf of the commissioner by the state’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Daniel Ndukwe, in Enugu.
The commissioner also consoled families, friends and loved ones of the victims of the crash that claimed about a dozen lives.
“The Command regrets to inform the general public that a fatal motor accident, involving a Mercedes Benz Tipper, with registration number AAA 285 XR and an 18-Seater Commuter bus, with registration number: NKE 622 XA, occurred at Ituku, Awgu LGA, along the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.
“Preliminary investigation reveals that the tipper loaded with bags of cement and moving against traffic from Enugu City, had a head-on collision with the commuter bus, loaded with passengers and coming from Aba, Abia State.
“This resulted in both vehicles bursting into flames and all the occupants burnt beyond recognition, except the driver of the tipper, who was found alive and is currently admitted in the hospital,” he said.
The commissioner bemoaned the unfortunate accident coming up in this Easter season, when Christians in the state and the world over are commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
According to him, “I have, therefore, ordered the State Traffic Officer to carry out a full-scale motor traffic investigation into the incident, including evacuating the remains.
“I have also directed the officer to obtain the exact identities of the deceased victims and their relatives, as well as coming up with an actionable report.
“I am using this avenue to caution motorists against disobeying road traffic rules.
“The only way to safety on the road is to exercise caution, patience and obey all road traffic rules and regulations,” he added.
Route violation caused fatal accident along Enugu-Port Harcourt Road – FRSC Sector Commander
In his reaction to the tragedy, Corps Commander Joseph Toby, the Sector Commander of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Enugu State Command, said route violation was the major cause of the fatal accident.
Toby told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Sunday that the accident, which claimed over a dozen lives at about 8:20pm, could be attributed to lack of patience and recklessness.
He confirmed that all the 15 occupants of a Toyota bus which had a head-on collision with a Mercedes truck on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Highway, within Ituku community in Awgu Local Government Area (LGS) were killed and burnt beyond recognition.
“All obstructions have been cleared. The Enugu State Fire Service has already extinguished the fire in the bus and the FRSC, in collaboration with security agencies, have evacuated the corpses.
“The fatal crash can also be blamed on several factors, including likely fatigue,’’ he said.
The commander urged Nigerians, especially drivers, to exercise patience and consider other road users.
Meanwhile, the Chief Fire Officer of Enugu State, Mr Okwudiri Ohaa, told NAN that the timely intervention of the Enugu State Fire Service, through its Ituku Station, checked the escalation and spread of the fire to other vehicles.
He said, “We ensured that the fire only affected the two vehicles involved.
“By this timely intervention, other personnel of emergency responders and security agencies were able to move into the scene and play their vital roles as well.”