About 6:30pm on Saturday 31st October 2020. Phones started beeping with notifications, group chats filled with panic, students turned body count estimators, the whole community bewildered as to which news to believe or reject. It was true, something had happened on Akungba road; an accident involving a regular face on this road, a loaded trailer had lost its control and plunged into the shops of the popular Ibaka market taking the lives of many.
Akungba-Akoko the host community of Adekunle Ajasin university, just like any other community thrives on trade, with the able bodied men and women of different ages finding their daily bread by trading various commodities to the populace, a larger percentage of who are students of AAUA.
Buying and selling exists in the nooks and crannies of the town, with the major arena of purchase being the roadside shops mounted on either side like a guard of honour, at the foot of a hilly and sloppy road, with Ibaka market as part of those in line. Plying this road are the big vehicles carrying different goods to be delivered to other places. These trucks announce their arrivals with loud honks and a cloud of smoke as they proceed to zoom off and climb the hills, or descend.
In time past, cases of accidents occurred because of mishaps that happened to the trailers, the main culprit being brake failure. In fact, a similar accident occurred in the month of September barely two months ago, which also claimed lives. As such, this was not the first time Ibaka market had been hit by the steel and brawn of these large vehicles.
This has always poured cold water into the hearts of the natives and traders who still find themselves resuming to their duty post consisting of wooden stores and roadside “selling joints”.
A female trader that pleaded anonymity said: “We only seek to make ends meet by staying on the roadside”. Survival is no doubt the reason for the continuation of activities on this road, but it is rather sad that things happen as a result of this seemingly recurring incident, while some people are lucky to cheat death and miss its blow by the tip of their hair, others are not very lucky.
Another accident on the last day of October
It happened again on the 31st of October caused by the break failure of a heavy truck said to be carrying rice, and diving uncontrolled into the crowd claiming the lives of not less than 16 people. Akungba road was painted red with the blood of innocent persons working hard to put food on their own table. People who are breadwinners for their families. Not only did this ghastly accident take lives of people, it caused emotions to explode making people to gather with tears flowing freely from their sympathetic faces.
As citizens gathered in their numbers to inspect the situation it soon became obvious that there were people that could make it alive from the road disaster, a mixture of hope and anguish. Some fiercely resisted the cold hands of death and are in the hospital receiving treatment, for some their bodies succumbed to the sting of death, their eyes shut to a world they held so dear, to a life they dreamt of building, all within a twinkle.
The cries and clamor; security agencies, the ruler and the ruled
At the inspection of the site, Security operatives including the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) swung into action, taking the injured to hospitals to receive treatment and delivered the dead to the mortuary for proper keep. The FRSC Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi in a statement gave an account of the number of casualties which were 16 deaths and 7 injured. The FRSC boss decried the incident and urged the government to relocate the market from the road.
The Executive Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu during his condolence visit to the scene described the incident as tragic. “To forestall a repeat of the tragedy, expert advice would be sought on what to do” the governor said. In addition, he promised to assist the victims, while efforts would be made to get the owner of the vehicle that caused the accident to pay adequate compensation for losses suffered by the people.
In a visit by the National Association of Akungba Students (NAAS) to the Akungba monarch to deliberate on the way-out of this incessant life threatening accidents. The Alale of Akungba bemoaned the incident and listed his plans, which included; the relocation of the Ibaka and Okusa markets and financial aid to the injured as well as to families of the bereaved. All aimed at relieving the casualties and protecting the lives of natives and students.
When asked of his opinion, Jesujoba a student of the department of Plant science and Biotechnology said: “I think the authorities should construct more road bumps because the only one is at the entrance of the school gate and also the market should be moved”.
A native who gave his name as Omole said: “I grew up in this town and the market place has been a source of income, but this recurring accidents needs to be stopped, or they should move the market away from the main road”.
A proactive Student Union
In the wake of the occurrence, the question that kept running in the minds of students was how the Student Union would tackle this menace as well as the measures they will put in place to further exemplify their unwavering commitment to the safety of the Students of AAUA.
The Student Union (SU) led by Obagunwa Olusegun also known as Supreme held a meeting with the FRSC on Monday 2nd November 2020, the Students’ Union officers met with the appropriate quarters to discuss intellectually.
After the long engagement both parties reached an agreement, while the FRSC promised an astute intervention and necessary remedy to curb further reoccurrence of the incident that has claimed many lives in Akungba .
In a statement released by the SU PRO Comrade Adegbeyeni Oluwafemi also known as Barryfem said: “The Student Union is striving to stay committed and pro-active towards advocating and ensuring sustainability of students welfare”.