29 die as speeding Nigerian buses crash, burst into flames

September 1, 2012 7:24 am

, ABUJA, Sept 1 – Two speeding buses on Friday collided head-on and burst into flames killing at least 29 people and injuring 16 others in northern Nigeria’s Yobe state, police and an official said.

The crash was the latest tragedy to befall travellers on Nigeria’s perilous roads, plagued with accidents due to a combination of reckless driving, overloading and poor maintenance.

“Two Toyota Hiace Buses… travelling in opposite directions had a head-on collision and thereafter went off in flames.

Twenty nine persons — eleven of them burnt beyond recognition — have so far been confirmed dead,” national police spokesman Frank Mba said in a statement.

The accident occurred in the state’s Nengere area, the statement added. The injured were taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Potiskum.

The head of the road safety commission in Yobe, Usman Masari, told AFP both drivers had been speeding.

He described both buses as 18-seaters, but drivers routinely cram extra passengers into vehicles to maximise their income per journey.

A similar crash killed 33 people near Potiskum in 2010, when two commuter buses collided and caught fire.

The police statement lamented the “incessant” accidents on Nigeria’s highways, considered among the most dangerous in the world.

Police urged Nigerians to avoid “speeding, over loading and flagrant disobedience of road traffic laws and regulations”.

More than 17,000 people died in about 31,000 road accidents across Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, between 2007 and 2009, according to the federal road safety agency’s 2010 report, the most recent published.

Last month, an oil tanker tipped over as it tried to avoid three oncoming vehicles. Petrol began spilling out of the truck and locals rushed to the scene to collect free fuel.

The petrol then caught fire, burning more than 100 people to death.

Nigerian officials have long-identified infrastructure improvement, including road upgrades, as a priority, but public works projects are often delayed and take years to complete once started.

A 2010 report by the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, an initiative back by the World Bank and European Union, said Nigeria needed to double its infrastructure spending if the country hoped to significantly improve its transportation network.


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