James Sowole in Akure
Eighteen persons were yesterday burnt to death at Oba Ile junction along Akure-Owo expressway in a road accident involving a Toyota Hiace Bus and a lorry collided on the road.
The accident, THISDAY checks revealed, occurred at about 3:30 a.m., when no person could place distress calls to officials of the Nigeria Police, Federal Road Safety Corps or Ondo State Emergency Management Agency on time.
THISDAY checks also revealed that the two vehicles involved a Toyota Hummer Bus with registration number ADAMAWA YLA 25 XU and a lorry with registration 873 XM LAGOS GG 873 XM .
An eyewitness account told THISDAY that while the lorry was heading towards Lagos, the bus was heading towards Abuja on the Akure-Owo expressway, which links the country’s political capital to its commercial nerve centre.
The Ondo State Police Command confirmed the accident yesterday, though had given full report on what culminated in the accident and the number of victims.
Giving a preliminary report yesterday, the command’s Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Femi Joseph said preliminary investigation showed that the accident occurred when the lorry was trying to avoid a bad portion on the expressway.
He said while the lorry was trying to avoid the bad portion, it collided with the bus coming from the opposite end and the bus caught fire, which burnt all the passengers to death.
However, the police spokesperson disclosed that the driver and the motorboy of the lorry ran away immediately after the accident occurred. He, therefore, assured that the driver and his motorboy would be arrested.
The accident lent credence to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) that no fewer than two lives “are lost on Nigerian roads every four hours.”
The report, also, said every year, about 20,000 of the 11.654 million vehicles in the country are involved in accidents, which the prevalence of road accidents in the country.
According to the report, the number of lives lost to road traffic accidents from January 2013 to June 2018 are as follows: 2013 – 5,539; 2014 – 4,430; 2015 – 5,400; (FRSC): 2016 – 5,053; 2017 – 5,049; January to June, 2018 – 2,623.
By implication, the report showed that the prevalence of road accidents “makes Nigeria one of the countries with very high road fatalities in the world.”
In May 2017, the FRSC said that there were 33.7 deaths per 100,000 people in Nigeria every year, making Nigeria one of the countries with the highest number of fatalities in Africa.
In 2018, however, a report by the International Transport Forum (ITF) on road safety said the Zimbabwe had the worst road fatality in the world with 74.5 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
The report said the world average “is 17.4; Africa is 26.6. The fatality rate for South Africa is 21 while Norway has the least road fatality with two deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.”
But in March 2018, the NBS put the number of registered vehicles in Nigeria at 11,653,871. With an estimated population of 198 million, the vehicle per population ratio is 0.06.
Since most crashes involve at least two vehicles and given that 10,026 crashes were recorded in 2017, it means that at least 20,000 of the 11.654 million registered vehicles were affected in the crashes. The figure would be more, if multiple auto crashes were included.