Posted by Alphonsus Nweze, Onitsha on
LAMENTATIONS filled the air in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra State yesterday as the bodies of 16 traders, who died in an auto crash in Benue State were evacuated from a vehicle and moved to a hospital mortuary in the city
LAMENTATIONS filled the air in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra State yesterday as the bodies of 16 traders, who died in an auto crash in Benue State were evacuated from a vehicle and moved to a hospital mortuary in the city.
Friends, relations, colleagues and syrupathisers wailed and sobbed uncontrollably as the bodies were brought out like logs of wood and transferred to St. Charles Borromeo Hospital, Mortuary.
Among the 26 traders who left for Gboko last Wednesday in a Mercedes Benz 911 lorry to purchase foodstuff were the General Secretary of Ose Okwodu Traders Union (OTU), Mr. Jude Ohams, who hails from Ezi-Achi, Orlu in Imo State, and three women.
According to the president of Ose Okwodu Traders Union, Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo, who was pensive mood, the traders met their death on January 13, 2005 on Gboko road when the lorry they were travelling in had a head –on collision with a trailer about 3.00 am in Benue.
He said 23 of the passengers died, three died later, bringing the number to 26, while only three survived the accident.
The president, however, said only 16 bodies were brought from Gboko to Onitsha while the union is expecting relations to come forward to take the remains for decent burial.
The union was holding a meeting at press time yesterday to plan how to give the late Ohams a befitting burial.
Daily Champion learnt that of the 26 dead traders, 16 are from Onitsha, nine of them from Ose market, seven from Ochanja Market, while 10 others are from outside Onitsha.
Chief Ezenwankwo who expressed shock at the death toll, said the traders had to resort to traveling in the 911 lorry to avoid being attacked by robbers.
Among early sympathizers yesterday at the mortuary were the Chairman of Onitsha North Local Government, Mr. Bright Osemeke and Igwe Kenneth Okonkwo of Amansea.
Expressing sympathy, Osemeke directed the Ezenwankwo to compile the list of the traders and forward them to his office.
President General of Anambra State Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA), Mr Sylvester Odife, on his part, expressed shock at the sad news, and said that it was very unfortunate that the traders lost their lives early in the New Year when many people have not even returned from Yuletide celebrations.
He condoled with the families, and relations, of the deceased, and the chairman of Ose Market and the entire Ose traders, praying that God will grant them the fortitude to bear the losses.
Odife however called on the Federal Government to beef up security on the highways to ensure free movement of people and goods as well as the safety of individuals, stating that it was an attempt to avoid robbers that led the traders to their end.
The ASMATA president advised traders to minimise night travels even as he called on vehicle owners to provide alternative drivers if they must put their vehicles on the road at night.
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