By Henry Umoru
ABUJA — Captain Sabo Sambo, younger brother of Vice President Namadi Sambo and son of Mallam Nasir el-Rafai, former Federal Capital Territory minister, were just two on an endless list of those who have lost their lives in ghastly road crashes on Abuja Airport Road.
Yesterday, two persons were again seriously injured on the road, renamed Umaru Yar’Adua Road, in a multiple accident involving four vehicles.
The accident which happened by Pyakasa, Airport Road at 10am. Vanguard’s visit to the scene showed that the crash happened after Sports Utility Vehicle, SUV, with number plate, Abuja EL 645 ABJ, lost control, summersaulted after the right side tyre pulled off.
Following the accident, a truck with number plate, Lagos KTU 577XD, while the driver was trying to avoid a major accident, veered into the drainage on the Airport Road.
Another Honda car with number plate, Katsina AE 834 MLF, also ran into a drainage while trying to avoid the SUV, just as a Range Rover Land Cruiser with number plate, Lagos GGE 743 LX, was also affected as it was hit by the truck, with one of its front tyres pulled off.
According to an eyewitness, who was behind the white SUV, Chodozie Udogu, the driver of the vehicle became confused thereby struggling with the car which was badly damaged.
Udogu told Vanguard that if the driver of the truck had not veered into the drainage, the accident would have been worse as many vehicles would have been affected.
Following the crash, passers-by parked their vehicles at the scene, apparently to sympathise with the victims, to help save life as well as assist in removing the damaged vehicle from the road.
Glasses, some parts of the damaged vehicle as well as blood stains were seen at the scene of the accident.
Soon after the accident, one of the injured persons who was at the passenger’s seat of the Jeep was on the floor with blood gushing out from his nose and ears until men of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, came and evacuated the injured to the hospital.
Men of the Vehicle Inspection Office, VIO, and Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, were on ground to take the necessary documentation and to remove the vehicle from the road.
Trouble with the road
As a means of tackling the problem of perennial traffic congestion usually encountered by those coming into the Nigeria capital city, the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2008 awarded a contract for the expansion of the Abuja Airport and Kubwa expressway.
They are also known as the Outer Southern Expressway and Outer Northern Expressway respectively.
The contract, which involved expansion of the roads to 10 lanes as well as the rehabilitation of the existing expressways, was awarded at a cost of N257 billion.
The two lots of the Airport Expressway project were managed by Julius Berger, while Messrs Dantata and Sawoe and CGC Nigeria Limited executed Lot I and Lot II of the Outer Northern Expressway (Kubwa Expressway) projects, respectively.
Although the contractors were scheduled to deliver the project to the government at the end of 2014, travellers are already using the roads, which are over 90 per cent completed.
But the expansion of the roads, which was described as another bold step in Nigeria’s march towards vision 20-2020, for which the quality of infrastructure is one of the critical elements, is gradually turning into a killing machine.
The problem is the open drainage constructed in the middle of the expressways which many have described as a death trap as vehicles regularly crash into them, with fatal consequences.
The situation is usually worse during the rainy seasons. Regular users of the roads lament that about six vehicles find their way daily into the ditch-like drainages on rainy days, often with massive damage to the vehicles involved in addition to fatalities or injuries.