ENUGU, Nigeria – Contrary to the 21 death figure reeled out by the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, the Principal of Presentation Nursery and Primary School, Awgu, in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Rev Sister Udechukwu Chisomma has said eight pupils lost their lives in the accident.
OgeneAfrican learnt that the Principal disclosed this when the Country Programmes Director of the Global Society for Anti-Corruption (GSAC), Mrs Amaka Nweke, took journalists on a fact-finding trip to the area.
She added that apart from the eight pupils, the school equally lost its driver and a teacher to the fatal accident.
A trailer belonging to a construction company had while climbing down the Mmaku hill last Wednesday, collided into a 608 bus conveying home after school pupils of Presentation Nursery and Primary School, Awgu and dragged the vehicle into a nearby ditch.
Enugu State Sector Commander, FRSC, Ogbonnaya Kalu, while confirming the incident stated that 21 died from the incident, including school children.
But speaking to reporters the first time since the incident happened, Rev Udechukwu, stated that the bus was conveying only 20 persons when the incident took place and that only ten persons died from the school.
“The driver has about four places to stop. He had earlier dropped off some pupils in the first place and left with only 20 persons. The 20 persons were 17 pupils of the school, two teachers and the driver. So they were at the junction, trying to drop the pupils when suddenly the trailer failed to break and lost control and collided with them.
“At the spot, six pupils died and a teacher. The other teacher and the driver were rushed to the hospital with nine children and the driver also. One of the pupils did not sustain any injury on that day. So to cut the story short, as I am standing here, what we have recorded is ten deaths – eight pupils, the driver and a teacher.
“The other ones that we sent to UNTH, four have been discharged and some are in their home receiving treatment. So for now we have only a teacher and two pupils still in the hospital. That is what happened. There is no family that incurred two deaths. There is no family that lost all their children. We have only ten deaths including the driver and a teacher. It is not true that 21 children died. It is not true that the bus carried over fifty children. It was in fact the second bus from the school. He had discharged the first set of pupils and was going to discharge the second set”, she explained.
The Principal who stated that the ugly incident had forced them to close school, added that already a date has been fixed for the funeral service of the students and staff who died in the incident, adding, “what I am doing at the moment is to gather the data of those affected in preparation for the event”.
Corroborating her story, Chairman of Awgu local government council, Nwankwo Okwudili Pedro, explained that apart from the ten persons from the schools, two others – a Vulcanizer and an apprentice doing business at the junction died at the spot.
He stated that there was no iota of truth in the claims by the Road Safety, adding that he had taken time to visit all the families affected by the incident.
“The Council has been very proactive. It has been able to meet with immediate families of those involved in the accident. It has met with the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Awgu, brought a heavy duty truck used to pull the 608 from the ditch as well as the trailer. The council is equally planning is to see how to prevent a recurrence by putting up a very good measure so that even if that there is any other vehicle that lost control, we won’t be able to have this level of casualty”, Nwankwo said
The Vicar of St Marks Anglican Church, Awgu, Ven Victor Oguejiofor, who stated that of his three children involved in the accident that one died and thanked God that he didn’t lose the three of them in the incident.
“I lost my first daughter, an intelligent girl of seven years, who was in primary four, who despite her tender age was already cooking, serving and scrubbing the church. I don’t know why such a thing happened. I am still in trauma though I am a Cleric. I am still in tears that I lost my beloved daughter but I believe God and I know that God will bring restoration. God will compensate me, God will encourage me to forge ahead in preaching the gospel. I know it is testing time but trial and temptation will not make me go away from God”, he prayed.
Speaking to journalists after the trip, the GSAC Country Programmes Director, Mrs. Nweke called on the Enugu state government to immediately intervene on the Nkwo junction where the accident happened.
She suggested the relocation of artisans doing business there and erecting speed breakers on the narrow road to avert further occurrence.
She said it was dangerous for anybody to continue to do business there because of the nature of the road.