22 November 2012

Nigeria: The Death Trap Between Gusau and Sokoto


Gusau — On Monday two fatal accidents killed 23 people along Gusau-Sokoto road. In the first accident, a bus veered off the road and collided with a golf car that was heading for Gusau. It left 17 people dead and several others with various degrees of injury.

In the other accident, few kilometres to Mafara, another bus skidded off the road and somersaulted in the bush killing six people, according to the sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission Mallam Ibrahim Sarki.

Both accidents were attributed to overloading and over-speeding. It was reported that four passengers were crammed at the two front seats including the driver's and the other four at the back seats while some three other passengers were crammed in the booth of the golf car before the accident.

After the victims were rushed to the hospital, Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar summoned the FRSC officials to the government house to discuss the cause of the accident and how to prevent recurrence.

At the meeting the governor told the FRSC official that they should liaise with the state assembly and enact a law banning overloading of vehicles and over speeding, and if there is any existing law in that respect it must be reinforced.

Yari said motorist found breaching the law will be dealt with accordingly. "This menace must come to an end; we cannot just fold our arms and watch reckless drivers risking the lives of people," he said.

For quite a long time people have been complaining about the attitude of commercial drivers, especially golf car drivers plying the road. Witnesses say they cover the 205km Sokoto-Gusau journey in an hour.

In October last year, the Emir of Anka and Chairman Zamfara Council of Chiefs Alhaji Attahiru Ahmad OON lamented the frequent road accidents along Sokoto-Gusau road, something he attributed to reckless driving.

At the official commissioning of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) Observation Camp along Anka road, 60km off Sokoto -Gusau road, the Emir tasked road safety officials to keep vigil in order to arrest and prosecute motorists who disregard traffic laws.

"There was a time I was travelling to Gusau and I saw one overloaded golf car; I could not recognise the driver on that vehicle because there were four passengers at the front and even the driver was sharing his seat with another passenger and God forbid if there was an accident it would be a very fatal one," the Emir said.

Checks revealed that due to reckless driving, passengers, especially those plying that route have started avoiding golf cars. Many commuters attribute the frequent accidents on the road to over speeding and overloading, not because the road is bad.

The Sokoto-Gusau the road was reconstructed during the administration of President Olesegun Obasanjo, but it became a death trap courtesy of reckless commercial drivers.

"You will hear these reckless drivers discussing about the speed at which they travel... Ah ai a jaka guda nake tafiya, meaning he moves at 200km per hour," Isyaku sani, a Gusau resident told our reporter.

But some commuters appear to be comfortable with the golf drivers. Surajo Muhammad is a sociology student of Usman Danfodio University Sokoto and he told Daily Trust how he enjoys travelling on the road by golf cars.

"Sometimes if I have lectures or test, say at 8am, what I normally do is to board the golf cars from Gusau around 6.30 am and I reach Sokoto before 8am. You can see how this is helpful to me," he said ignoring the danger associated with the reckless driving.

A commercial driver, Aliyu sani, told Daily Trust how some of these motorist endanger the lives of people. "They don't mind the dangerous bends on that road and sometimes they underestimate the speed of oncoming vehicles, and you will see them overtaking at dangerous spots," he said.

For some of them, high speeding is fashionable, he said. "There is one attitude they are known, which is fashionable among them. They play a 90minute cassette from Gusau and they want it to finish on reaching Sokoto. Side A is expected to finish at Talata Mafara, halfway the journey while side B takes them through the remaining 110km to Sokoto.

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