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Accidents at Sikilo and Sakal Causing 60 Deaths: A Bloody Week On Senegalese Roads –

What can we say? The death toll from the Sikilo and Sakal crashes resembles a plane crash in terms of fatalities. There are at least 64 deaths in these two road traffic accidents, which shows that our roads are real places of death. The diagnosis is made: there are technical and human failures and also the state of the roads. The remedies were also prescribed during the last Inter-ministerial Council on Road Safety, held on January 9, after the tragedy in Sikilo. With the Sakal tragedy, will the state stay on this path, even if some of the truck drivers have decided to go on strike? Will it put its foot on the accelerator or the soft pedal?

The road has killed again in Senegal. After the accident in Sikilo, in the Kaffrine region last week, which killed 42 people, a collision between a « Ndiaga Ndiaye » bus and a truck transporting goods, caused the death of 22 people and injured 25 five of them in serious condition. It occurred between Nguidj and Mbanda towards Sakal, a locality in the commune of Ngueune Sarr, Louga region. The Prime Minister, who went to the scene of the tragedy, reiterated the firmness of the State on the application of the measures enacted during the Inter-Ministerial Council.

In Sakal, time stood still yesterday. After the accident that occurred near this locality a few kilometres from the city of Louga, it was the ballet of the authorities following a collision between a transport coach, commonly called « Ndiaga Ndiaye », and a freight truck. The toll is heavy: 22 dead and 25 injured. The bus, which was carrying 47 people, had left the village of Ndiock Sall where they took part in a family ceremony. On the way back, it fatally mowed down a donkey then hit the truck head-on, which had 2 people on board. Alerted, the group of firefighters and the Security Forces were transported to the scene to assist the victims. Thanks to the rapid arrival of help, 17 injured were evacuated to the Amadou Sakhir Mbaye Hospital in Louga, Saint-Louis (3) and 7 by helicopter to Dakar, one of whom eventually died in flight. In the evening, two of the wounded interned in Louga will also surrender.

A firm face, the Prime Minister, who arrived at the scene of the accident a little after 5 p.m., went to the bedside of the injured. This tragedy comes after that of Sikilo, which killed 42 people a week ago pushing the state to take 22 measures to slow down road accidents. He says: The State will implement them with all the rigour required, while continuing discussions with the actors of the transport sector so that the general interest is above particular interests. These measures will be applied, in particular, on their part concerning the transformations to carrier vehicles.

The Prime Minister Firm on the Application of Measures

The tone is firm as some transport operators have decided to go on strike from today. “The bus involved in the accident had a gray card which authorised the transport of 32 people, it embarked 47 in total, that is to say 15 more.” What about the ban on used tyres? Amadou Ba does not dither: “These measures will be well applied and discussions will be open for the application of the accompanying measures which will be taken, the objective of the government being to reduce the costs of transporters.” In Sakal, he also returned to the technical visit. Amadou Ba tried to justify its relevance by nevertheless acknowledging that the damaged bus had passed the inspection three times before being put back into circulation. “A situation which, he recognises, also engages the responsibility of the government, which will assume its responsibilities.” Today, most accidents also result from the obsolescence of the vehicle parks. “The government has decided on a program to renew the parks, this implementation will be the subject of discussions with the transporters”, he stated. And will the speed limit be enforced? “For speeding which is part of the causes of the accident, an important measure will be taken with the sealing of the engines of public transport vehicles and luggage transport trucks at 90 kph.This measure will be applied as quickly as possible by the Ministry of Transport,” specified the Head of government.

Road of All Dangers

In Louga, the Prime Minister was quite annoyed by the persistence of accidents. For him, the State will not fail in its mission. “Today we have exceeded all limits and the government will enforce these measures even if discussions continueto accompany them. We cannot put an end to accidents, but we can limit their numbers,” hopes Amadou Ba. He announced that the Head of State has granted CFAF 2 million to the parents of each deceased and one million to each injured person for the payment of their medical bills. “Medical equipment will be sent to Louga Hospital to strengthen the technical platforms. Some of the material has already arrived and the rest is in progress. Instructions have been given to academics to provide support to doctors if necessary,” reassured the Prime Minister, flanked by the Ministers of Land Transport, the Interior and Community Development.

This Sakal-Louga section is a component of the Saint-Louis-Louga road, considered to be the most accident-prone area in the north of the country. A very busy road, which is characterised by its narrowness, but also by its many turns. It is also known for its frequentation by wandering animals, particularly donkeys, which constitute a permanent danger for vehicles and the cause of many accidents.

By Cheikh NDIONGUE / cndiongue@lequotidien.sn

Translation by Ndey T. SOSSEH

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