Three siblings and students were among eight persons killed on Saturday around the gate of Michael Adekunle Ajasin, University, Akungba -Akoko Local Government Area, Ondo State, Southwest Nigeria, when a truck ran into some nearby shops following a brake failure.
HumAngle learnt that the truck, which was loaded with cement, had a brake failure and plunged into some students and traders in nearby shops, killed eight and injured many.
Some students and other witnesses said health workers, the police and officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission struggled to rescue victims.
“A trailer whose break failed rammed into several people and shops, including one, where students were doing photocopies for exams, while it was coming from the direction of Ikare-Akoko passing through Adekunle Ajasin University.
“There are about 18 casualties as officials of the road safety commission are still evacuating people stuck under the trailer” an eyewitness told HumAngle on Saturday.
The spokesperson for the Police Command in Ondo State, Tee-Leo Ikoro, confirmed the incident and said that eight fatalities had so far been recorded.
“The cement trailer was coming from Obajana in Kogi State when it rammed into the shops, Eight dead bodies have been recovered and our men are still searching for other trapped victims,” Ikoro said.
Tales of grief stricken voices
In a grief-stricken mood, students of the institution have taken to social media platforms to vent their anger against incessant auto crashes around the university gate.
In the last four months, no fewer than 40 people have been killed in multiple auto-related accidents, mostly caused by heavy duty trucks in the area, the students and other sources said.
On Oct. 31, 2020, about 10 persons were killed in an accident that happened at Akungba Market in Ondo State, they said.
The accident occurred after a truck conveying bags of rice had a brake failure and ran into Akungba Market and crushed 10 persons to death and also injured many others, HumAngle learnt.
Also, on Nov. 1, 2020, 16 people lost their lives while seven suffered injuries when a truck loaded with rice rammed into a popular market, Ibaka, in the town, an official of the Federal Road Safety Commission said.
Not long after, on Dec. 11, 2020, at least 12 people lost their lives in an accident in front of the university main gate when a petrol tanker lost control and ran into some vehicles before exploding and burst into flames, the official said.
The latest accident involving students of the university happened barely a week after the school resumed from a protracted closure forced by the COVID-19 pandemic and a strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Following the calling off of the strike and directive for schools to resume by the Federal Government, the students returned to face examinations which they ought to have written before the closure in March last year.
HumAngle learnt that among four of the students who died were three siblings, including Oluwaseun Ojinni and Ben Ojinni, as well as Samuel Adesomoju, a former Students’ Union president of the university,
Some students who spoke to HumAngle attributed the high rate of accidents along the axis to the narrowness of the road and called for its expansion to accommodate heavy duty trucks which plied the route.
“This is not the first time that such an accident would happen in Akungba,” Jesutola Adebayo, a 400 level student of public administration, said.
“Everything is not about prayers, there are some preventive measures the government and management can put in place to avoid these fatal accidents claiming our lives,” Adebayo said.
He suggested the barricading of the road and the relocation of the university entrance gate currently at the roadside, to minimise casualties among students.
“The government can barricade the road so that trailers will have to slow down anytime they are passing through the route. It’s a single-lane for God’s sake!
“If not, the government should dualise it,’ Adebayo said.
Similarly, Seyifunmi Francis, a 200 level student of the law, noted that the incessant auto crashes along the university road were ” “unforgivable.”
Francis said that all pleas to ensure that the government addressed the problem had fallen on deaf ears.
‘It is so unfortunate that this has been happening, the same way, over and over again without any solutions. It’s unforgivable and an act not less than inhumane!” he cried.
For Godspower Olorunsaanumi, a 400 level students of mass communication, said accidents along the university main entrance had been a regular occurrence.
“It’s almost everyday, we have lost over 70 people to accidents in Akungba in the last five months and these accidents are mostly caused by heavy duty trucks. The road is curvy and too tiny for heavy duty trucks,” Olorunsaanumi said.
Meanwhile, Opeoluwa Akinfemiwa, the University Registrar, said in a statement that the truck involved belonged to Dangote Group.
Just as the students demanded, Akinfemiwa said the school authorities had shut down the main gate and advised the students to use alternative gates to access the campus in the coming weeks, albeit temporarily.
He said the university and the Ondo State Government were working round the clock to find a permanent solution to the problem of accidents along Ikare-Akungba road.
The authorities of the institution have also suspended scheduled examinations as a mark of respect for the dead students.
“The Management of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Akoko, received with great shock the news of an accident involving a Dangote trailer which occurred in the evening of today, Saturday, 23rd January,, 2021, in which some of our students sadly lost their lives.
“As a temporary measure, management has directed that the main gate should be closed with immediate effect.
“Staff and students are therefore requested to make use of the following, Sports Center gate; Guest House gate; Eastern gate and the two small gates (the one leading to the Works and Services Department and the one leading to the Students’ Union building).
“As a mark of respect for our departed students, the examinations scheduled to start on Monday, 24th January, 2021, (are)/hereby postponed till further notice.
“We appeal that our students should remain calm, as the University mourns those that lost their lives in this unfortunate incident,” Akinfemiwa wrote.