DECEMBER 17, 2017, on my way from Ifite Awka approaching the popular Unizik junction, near Kenneth Dike Central Library, Awka, lay two corpses on the road with a crowd circling the area. It wasn’t a good scene, but mishaps on this stretch of road tend to become frequent.
By Emeka Chiaghanam
On enquiry, I learnt a cyclist with his female passenger entered the expressway from the road leading to Teachers House beside the Library wall and were riding against the traffic when an oncoming SUV from the opposite direction hit and brought them down and a lorry which was coming behind the SUV crushed them to death. The lorry involved in the accident, it was gathered, sped off.
On the heels of that, another accident happened though without loss of lives as a driver of a Rover Saloon car who was over speeding crashed into the wire mesh recently put in place by the state government. The two occupants of the vehicle came out alive with minor injuries.
The next Wednesday, a trailer conveying goods from the northern part of the country few metres after De Santos Hotels, crushed a motorcyclist to death. It was apparent the motorcyclist was plying the wrong side of the road. The following Sunday, dust had not settled as I approach God is Good Motors, an accident has taken place. A vehicle approaching the Unizik Junction hit a commercial motorcyclist. The vehicle eventually rammed into a post by the road.
Month earlier, at the Government House end of the road, opposite Ecobank, a lady on her way to work was smashed to death by a hit and run car going to Enugu. Similarly, at the same area, a man whose elderly mother operates a shop inside the Ukwu Oji, Government House was crushed into a ditch by a vehicle on a high speed plying the road, one accident too many on this road.
The frequency of accidents on the road prompted some Christians sometime ago to conduct prayer sessions at the Government House end of the road to avert accidents. Some people believed it to be the handiwork of blood sucking vampires behind the accidents, but others do not agree with that, though not denying the spate at which lives are lost on this stretch of road.
A commercial motor driver, Mr. Nduka Okoli, wants the state to find means of check mating the speed limit on this road, though it is a federal road, but its location in the heart of the town should give concern to state government than the federal government, “We all know that the stretch of road is federal road, there is little the state could do to erect barricades or bumps to slow vehicles, particular those on high speed. This situation will not be solved if a device is not employed on this.”
A civil servant, Onyeka Nwoye, who ply the road on every workday thinks the major challenge leading to frequent mishaps on the road should be that of caution on the part of motorists and road users, “I think the main problem on this road is that of over speeding on the part of motorists and recklessness on the part of commercial motor operators. The state government lacks the right to effect any changes on federal road than rehabilitation, which the federal government may not reimburse.
Continuing he said, “More than erecting bumps on the road which is not possible, any motorcyclist caught on this should be prosecuted. But you find that most times when they are apprehended, all what the security operatives do is to free them after extorting money from them. It is against the traffic law in the state for motorcyclists to ply this road. It doesn’t end there. Most of the accidents involving motorcycles has been on the wrong side of the road.”
Another commercial bus driver, Ebuka Okeke, noted that as long as the state government is powerless to construct any bumps on the road that will reduce the spate of accidents on this axis, it can employ other measures to slow down traffic on this end to save lives, “Anambra State Government should put resources into use to construct more flyovers at strategic points from Government House to Unizik Junction as access from both end of road slows down vehicle flow, besides putting Anambra Traffic Management Agency (ATMA) and Ocha Brigade officials at work till late in night.”
Absence of road signs at strategic points of the road is a concern for Mr. Livinus Nwaokoye, who lives at the Aroma axis of the road. He believes that other measures to avert accidents will be useful, but want the state government effort geared toward erecting road signs. “It may not matter as some people see, but huge and strategic signs are vital in averting accidents on this road. These signs for no other reason caution road users and motorists.
Ekene Okoli, bemoans lack of traffic education as a huge challenge. He wonders why the state government has not embarked on constant enlargement given the occurrence of accidents. “When road users don’t know what road signs signify, how they could observe it. It’s terrible that many of them cannot read road signs, yet ply the road. The road in particular is a federal road quite right, but cuts through the state capital, commonsense dictates that it requires that a particular speed limit while driving inside is required.”
For John Okeke, a student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, lawlessness has become the norm of most road users in this country. Ignorance of traffic laws is never the situation with many of them, who constitute bulk of those involved in this accident and elsewhere and across the country, “many of them know what traffic rules say but flout the rules.