Monday, 24 October 2016

THE 21 OCTOBER 2016 TRAIN DERAILMENT AT ESEKA: The Consequence Of Negligence and Bad Governance

As most Cameroonians mourn their unfortunate compatriots who passed away in last Friday's train crash at Eseka, I have decided to write down my sad feelings for those who have paid the alternate price for the negligence of the great lords of the Biya's regime. While some call it patriotism, I deny to ever die for a country that has little or no respect for the poor and underprivileged. I may sound biased in my report but it's the fruit of hurt and hate.
On Friday 21 October 2016 which happened to have been my birthday, I got up at about 4:30am to keep myself posted via my favourite news websites. I was surprised by Charles Ebune's post on his Facebook page indicating that heavy rains had watched out a portion of the Yaoundé-Douala highway near Matomb in the Nyong and Kelle  Division of the Centre Region of Cameroon thereby putting movements by road on this highway in a halt. I never knew that this incident was the beginning of a glooming Friday. Impossible to travel by road, many passengers decided to travail between Yaoundé and Douala by train. Because an average Cameroonian spends most of his/her time thinking of how to amass enormous wealth without stress, Camrail authorities wanted to benefit from the road cut near Matomb and make much money.
Reliable sources say that the train was carrying about 1300 passengers instead of 600 that was sufficient for the capacity of the old and outdated train.
I blame the government of President Paul Biya especially the Minister of Transport, the Manager of Camrail and his coworkers. When the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon are unable to win their opponents, we blame the players and the Coach without blaming politicians who impose their brothers on the management of the national football team. Today, I blame the politicians. Which politicians? In a normal country(as Dr Noumbissie T. calls it), the Minister of Transport was supposed to look for an alternative means of transport between the densely populated and industrious towns of Douala and Yaoundé. More so, it was weekend. Many people could only travel by train. It was therefore the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport to insure safe journeys by train. When talking about the train crash in class today,a classmate told me that the train stations at Mbanga and Kumba often carry double their initial capacities. The rail officials have said that prior to the train's departure from Yaounde, eight additional wagons were added to the normally nine-wagon train in order to accommodate the additional passengers.
BOLLORÉ GROUP and safety norms
Camrail is a subsidiary company of French Bolloré Group. Bolloré is charged with rail services in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. We all know that rail lines in these two countries have a reputation for poor maintenance and failing to respect safety norms thereby making derailments relatively common. For example, The Telegraph reports that in September 2016, Bolloré Railways experienced a major incident in Ivory Coast when part of a bridge along a line it controls collapsed under freight train. Because African democracy originated from France, The Bolloré Group, led by French billionaire Vincent Bolloré, has plans to build and additional rail lines in French West Africa as part of the West Africa Regional Rail Integration plan.
More than 70 people have been killed and about 300 injured in the overloaded train. This is the deadliest train disaster in the history of Cameroon. It is the deadliest rail accident on the African continent since the August 1, 2007 Banaleka train incident in the Democratic Republic of Congo where 100 people died and about 128 injured.
Upon his arrival from a prolonged stay of 35 days out of the country, President Paul Biya declared Monday 24 October 2016 as the national day of mourning. To that effect,flags have been flown at half mast throughout the national territory and a series of church services have been held in the country to pray for the souls of the departed compatriots. We started today's lectures at the the department of Political Science of the University of Dschang ( level 4) with a minute of silence.
*Sack Cameroon's Minister of Transport for poor structures and bad politics!
*Sack the General Manager of Camrail for negligence!
*Also, let Cameroonians learn to be patient. It is often said that it's not how fast we go,but how far we go! Many of those who have died do not have their names on the receipt booklet of Camrail because they were to pay at their various destinations. A surviver explained on Canal 2 International that she did not pay because they were told to pay upon arrival in Douala.
*Repair the rail lines or quit. Most of the wagons are at least 30 years old and the rail lines even have the colonial history of the German Kamerun era.
Njobe Serge Ngala
Political Science Level 4
University of Dschang,Cameroon

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