Scores of Cameroonians have been visiting mortuaries to identify and collect the bodies of relatives who perished in two bus crashes Sunday that left 39 people dead between the capital Yaoundé and the western commercial city of Bafoussam.
Flavien Awanou, a social worker in the western commercial town of Bafoussam said he has been in search of his two children since he was informed of Sunday’s accidents.
He said a phone call from the police informed him that his son and daughter were involved in a deadly accident in Nemale village in the Ndikinimiki administrative unit.
Awanou said after a fruitless search at Ndikinimiki and Makenene hospitals, he has come to Yaoundé to find out if his children are in any hospital or their bodies are in any mortuary. Awanou said his children were returning from Bafoussam where they had spent Christmas with him to celebrate the change from 2020 to 2021 with their mother in the capital Yaoundé.
Paul Atanga Nji, Cameron minister of territorial administration who was sent to the scene by President Paul Biya, described what he found.
Nji said the first accident occurred at 3 a.m. Sunday when a 70-seat bus from the western towns of Foumban and Bafoussam crashed on the Nemale bridge near the town of Makenene. The bus landed in a 30-meter-deep dry riverbed.
The second occurred when another bus hit civilians and rescue workers who were helping victims of the first accident.
“Two accidents occurred in the same place. We have come here to extend the heartfelt condolences of President Paul Biya to the bereaved families and also the wish of the head of state that the wounded should be treated quickly, Nji said. “We will have a report which will be sent to the head of state and to the prime minister head of government so that we can have further instructions.”
Cameroon transport minister Jean Ernest Messina Ngale Bibehe was also sent to the scene by Biya. He said the government has ordered investigations on the causes of the accidents.
Bibehe said it was a black Sunday in Cameroon as so many lives were lost in less than 24 hours. He said the government took all necessary measures to avoid road accidents during this end of year period when many people are traveling by warning drivers against excessive speed. He said unfortunately, some drivers disrespect the driving code especially on roads where there are no police officers who can charge the drivers for misconduct.
He said road users should respect driving norms and stop the many accidents and deaths that occur every year in Cameroon.
During the past 10 years, Cameroon has reported an average of more than 16,000 road accidents killing close to 2,000 people each year.
The government blames the over-importation of secondhand cars, mechanical failure, the use of old and worn tires, hazardous overtaking, excessive speed and the bad state of roads.