By BEN AGANDE, Abuja
TIMOTHY Eze Okorie was aware that driving under the influence of alcohol was a crime that could earn him either imprisonment or a fine if caught by law enforcement agents.
But he is today grateful for his decision to buy a bottle of Alomo, a bitter alcoholic beverage produced in Ghana but popular with artisans and commercial vehicle drivers across the country, before beginning his job as a commercial bus driver.
That singular decision saved his life when a huge car bomb went off in a crowded bus terminus in Nyanya, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory, killing more than 70 commuters and wounded over one hundred others, with several cars torched.
Nyanya bus terminal
Narrating his experience to Vanguard Metro at the scene of the incident, Mr. Okorie who was visibly shaken said he could not explain why he took the decision to buy the Alomo Bitters rather than go back to Masaka to bring back passengers to the bus terminus.
According to him: “I Left my house at about six in the morning to bring passengers from Masaka, Mararaba, One Man Village and Ado to the Nyanya bus Terminus where they will board El-Rufai Bus to the city centre. I dropped the last passenger under the Nyanya Bridge and was supposed to enter the park to carry passengers
back to Masaka. Strangely, I had this sudden and strong feeling to take Alomo before beginning the day’s job. So rather than enter the park, I took the next turn, went round the bridge and headed towards Jukwoyi to buy a bottle of Alomo”.
That decision turned out to be his saving grace as less than three minutes after he left the bus park, the huge explosion occurred. Mr Okorie said though the decision to indulge in alcoholic drink so early in the morning, especially as a commercial bus driver, was something he would not have been proud of in normal circumstance,
the fact that decision alone saved him from certain death has made other considerations to pale into insignificance.
According to the excited but shaken bus driver, God intervened, using a most unlikely avenue to save his life: a place where cheap alcohol and Marijuana are sold.
“I should not be proud ordinarily to be saying this but God has saved me this morning using the most unlikely place. I had no reason to go there this morning because it was a rush hour and every driver knows that Monday mornings are the best time to get passengers. But I could not resist the urge to go and buy the drink. That decision saved my life!” he said.
He said it was just as he parked his bus and was about to disembark, that he heard a deafening explosion that threw his bus high in the air before slamming it to the ground. According to the bus driver, the first thing that came to his mind was that a reckless driver had rammed into his bus from the back but when he looked up, he saw a huge black smoke billowing to the sky from the bus park where he had passed less than three minutes ago!
“People started running helter-skelter. Cars and buses suddenly exploded into flame. There was loud wailing from the direction of the bus park. I was too dazed to move; but after a few minutes, I gathered courage and moved close to the place.
My colleagues who less than ten minutes ago I exchanged pleasantries with were stone dead! I couldn’t believe my eyes. That spur of the moment decision to make a detour to buy Alomo Bitters saved my life. God saved me using the most unusual place. I thank God,” he said almost at the verge of tears.