Reporter : UCHE NDEKE
About nine persons, including commercial motorcyclists and students of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU) Igbariam campus, in Anambra State were said to have lost their lives in road accidents that occurred at different times in the last five days at Igbariam Junction to the school campus.
The situation has thrown the entire school community into mourning as students living off campus fear to ply the road to go for lectures.
On Sunday (16/11/2020), a 4th year female student of English Department, lost her life after the commercial motorcycle carrying her collided with a vehicle that knocked her and the the driver into a bush.
According to some students, who spoke with Radio Nigeria under the condition of anonymity, the death of the bike man, who carried her, brought the number of deaths recorded on the road, involving students of COOU to about nine within four days.
A Philosophy student and English Education student had died on the same road forty eight hours earlier.
The situation got the people scary as many students either left the environment or locked themselves up in their hostels for fear of falling victim to same road crash.
One of the students, Miss Ijeoma Okafor, who recalled that they have lost several school mates, said she was scared to use motorcycle until further notice.
“We lost nine people already, me, I am not entering bike again, let me even recover from the shock first. It’s terrible,” she remarked.
Another concerned resident of the area, blamed the situation on the students whom he said were always in the habit of dressing up for lectures few minutes to the scheduled time thereby encouraging motorcyclists to speed up.
A parent, who preferred anonimity, also blamed the accidents on over speeding and appealed to the school authority to quickly erect speed breakers on the road.
“People don’t like good roads, when the road is good, they will be driving without knowing that what they are driving is engine. And some students too, they will not dress early for class and they will be pushing the bike to run faster,” he stated.
The President of the students Union Government, COOU, Comrade Gideon Arinzechukwu, said contrary to speculations about the accidents having spiritual undertone, the reckless attitude of some of the drivers and the size of the existing bumps may have contributed to the incidents.
“We have really lost our students, many students since this year. And these are students that were sent to school to study, you can’t say because of the accidents students should stop going to lectures or lock themselves up in the lodges, it’s not something that can be done, but the only thing we are begging government to do is for them to put in place the necessary preventive measures.
“The existing speed breakers are too small and is not end to end, so drivers try to dodge it and sometimes enter the drainage with our students getting involved,” the student union president explained.
Comrade Arinzechukwu and the Student Governor of Igbariam Campus, Kizito Madu, called on the government to restrict commercial motorcyclists from plying the area to reduce the rate of road accidents involving students of the institution.
“The okada was on a high speed while trying to beat the road block mounted by the local vigilante (sic) people, they wanted to hit him with stick, he tried to dodge and another bike carrying two of our students had accident and died,” Kizito Madu narrated.
Also, the representative of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Comrade Peter Onyenwife, who was in the school alongside other members of joint Campus Committee, Anambra State, called on the government to caution local vigilance operatives in the area, who he accused of causing one of the road accidents while they allegedly were trying to extort money from the motorcyclists.
“The bends and curves on the road and the speed limiters are very insignificant as drivers jump it without even feeling it. It’s so unfortunate that we keep loosing our students. Let the government do the needful,” Comrade Onyenwife appealed.
The Public Relations Officer of the institution,. Dr. Christian Chuwueloka, in an interview with Radio Nigeria, described the incidents as unfortunate and hinted that the school was contemplating of stopping students from entering bikes for the time being.
He however confirmed that three students had died within the period as efforts were on to get the state government to erect bigger speed breakers on the university road.
“Effort is being made to see whether the state government can put a more reasonable bumps to reduce the speed of okada riders and other vehicular movements.
“Two, we are also looking at the possibility of trying to stop our students from entering bike, it’s only unfortunate that the whole thing happened in a succession, looks as if to say there is something else,” the PRO said.
Radio Nigeria gathered that the Commissioners for Works and Transport had visited the institution on Monday with a view to finding a lasting solution to the incessant auto crashes.