Friday the 21st of October 2016 has been stenciled on the minds of Cameroonians as its transport network went berserk. It all began with a portion of the road linking Cameroon’s two major cities, Douala and Yaounde collapsing over a river. Barely a few hours later a train accident was recorded a passenger train derailed and overturned at Eseka resulting in the loss of lives.
What went wrong?
In the early hours of the said Friday a bridge got broken after heavy rains in Boumyebel on the Yaounde – Douala highway. The collapse of the bridge severely grounded traffic to and from Yaounde stalling the economic operations carried along that road. As seen from the photo above, the hanging lorry barely survived a backward plunge back into the river. The good news – no life was lost.
While the populace of Cameroon was happy that no casualties were recorded after the bridge collapsed, a resounding wailing hit the social media of a train derailment at Eseka. This time around there was total mourning because the train accident led to the loss of lives. At the time of this report, the number of deaths had gone up to 70
With many people to travel to and from Douala, there had to be another way to go about that. The train station then became flooded with many passengers. In an effort to remedy the flooding passengers situation there was bound to be overloading of the train. One would reason rightly, at least for now since no cause has been identified yet, that the overloading definitely affected the train and so led to the derailment.
Lessons to be learned from the train accident.
The Cameroonian government should revisit infrastructures, especially roads, bridges, electric power supply lines, etc, around the country to maintain old ones while building new ones. If there was another road linking Douala and Yaounde the train station could not have been flooded by passengers after the bridge collapsed on that fateful day and perhaps no train accident would have occurred.
Also, there’s need to improve the quality of work on the aforementioned infrastructures. It’s common to find especially roads around the country that have not lasted for long with the tarmac eroding. The other sad part of the story is that government sometimes doesn’t even look back to maintain old roads. Take for example the Bamenda road. It might also require the loss of lives to attend to that road. Should this always be the case?
Timely execution of projects
The timely intervention of the road construction workers on the collapsed bridge to bring about the usual smooth traffic is commendable. Though the work is tempory, it shows that projects can be achieved a lot faster than they get done in most of the cases. If projects are effectively and timely achieved, that will ease the development of this country.
The government and social media
With the ‘Android Generation’ (the youths as christened by President Paul Biya) always equipped with mobile communication devices, the Cameroonian government should step up its game. Moments after the train accident occurred, some images went viral announcing the accident. The sad thing is that some people resurrected images of a similar train accident that happened in 2009 and began sharing on social Media. This then brought a lot of doubts, especially for those who had knowledge of the old accident and had no one to contact for confirmation of the new.
We have both appointed and elected officials in the rank and file of the government starting from the Mayors, Divisional Officers, SeniorDivisionall Officers, Governors, Ministers, Prime Minister, President of Parliament, President of the Senate, and the President of the Country. Why do all these people exist, when an accident of that magnitude should be left in the hands of citizens equipped only with their mobile phones?
If it were in other countries the mayor of the town where the accident took place, or any other official would have come up to address the situation. No reliable source addressed the situation in time. The only thing that the CRTV did was to tweet – of which many Cameroonians are not on Twitter. We seem not to be conscious of the state of this country. May I remind that the country is being terrorized by Boko Haram. It’s about time the government of this country revisits its procedures and empowers some offices to start addressing situations as they come up.
As for the youths, you have a role to play in the future of this country, especially on social media. Be reminded that you can make or mar the stability of the country. There is the need to be responsible on social media. Quite a lot of audio, text, video and photo contents not directly related to the train accident and even the collapse of the bridge were released on social media by Cameroonians. This only adds to the confusion in the country faced by such tragedy.
Monday 24, October 2016 has been declared a national day of mourning. The flags shall fly at half mast around the national territory in remembrance of those who fell asleep from the tragic accident. Our hearts go out to the bereaved families.