The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) is seriously disturbed about the frequent tanker accidents that result in the loss of lives and properties at the Agbede axis of the Benin-Auchi Road, Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State. Last Friday, April 7, 2023, a catastrophic scale of destruction of lives and properties was once again documented when petrol tankers advancing in opposite directions collided, resulting in a massive fire. According to eyewitness accounts, numerous commuters were killed, and at least ten automobiles were destroyed, as well as some house roofs. In June 2022, a similar level of destruction occurred, resulting in the loss of seven lives and the burning of several cars. Accidents involving tankers transporting gasoline and other articulated vehicles have made the axis a living hell on earth every other year in recent memory. Large flames caused by the accident also devastate the natural environment, polluting the air and wreaking havoc on the flora and fauna.
From 2003 to the present, the Federal Government of Nigeria has awarded multiple contracts for the dualization of the Benin-Auchi road, which has been in disrepair since the era of military government. Unfortunately, the majority of the contracts were granted to faceless/political contractors, resulting in bad work that exacerbated the road’s status. However, expectations that the Buhari-led APC government would come to the rescue have once again been dashed, as the Buhari administration has done little or nothing to improve the state of the Benin-Auchi road, particularly the Agbede axis, which is notorious for multiple accidents year after year.
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CHRICED condemns the government’s response to the recurrent humanitarian disasters that have become a characteristic of the corridor. For us, the unwillingness and refusal of both federal and state authorities to address the deaths and suffering of inhabitants along the Agbede axis corridor brings into question their commitment to protecting lives and properties. It is intolerable and unacceptable for a road that is perceptually under repair to take citizens’ lives while officials turn a blind eye to their responsibility. It is no longer acceptable for scores of commuters to perish in the frequent accidents in the area, without anyone being held accountable.
Many homes and businesses around the Agbede axis have suffered lots of losses due to the frequent fires. The local economy and the informal sector have also suffered greatly due to the frequent fire outbreaks, which follow the vehicular accidents in the area. It is painful that beyond half-hearted condolences by government officials, nothing concrete is done to address the root cause. CHRICED therefore calls on citizens, communities, and interest groups along the Agbede axis to pressure the government to address frequent accidents in the area. This can be done through proper adaptive construction and proactive traffic management. To prevent future loss of lives and properties at the Agbede road intersection, the government, both at State and Federal level must ditch its ostrich approach by not going to sleep and waiting until another disaster precipitates a new round of sorrows, tears and avoidable deaths.
Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi
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