Bad road caused my uncle, his wife and five kids’ death — Niece

By Editor on 19/08/2018

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The late Onyias
The late Onyias

Relatives of a family of seven who died in an auto crash on the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway talk about the incident.

Tell us about yourself.

I am Vera Onyia, a niece to the late Ifeanyi Onyia, who died alongside his wife, five children and a neighbour’s daughter in a road accident.

Eight persons died in the accident. They included my uncle, his wife, Chinwe, five kids — Olive, the twins — Precious and Pearl, Sobe and Praise. My uncle was a pastor and worker with the Transmission Company of Nigeria. He was also the only son of his parents. The eighth victim was a neighbour’s daughter, Favour, who went with them to church that day. She was her parents’ only child.

How did the accident happen? 

On Sunday, June 10, 2018, a Toyota Camry and a Toyota Hiace bus belonging to a transit company had a head-on collision at Ugwu-Onyeama on the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway. Nobody died among the passengers of the transit bus but all the occupants of the Toyota Camry in which my uncle and others were in died.

I was with them in the car when we left for church that morning. But on the way, we had a little debate about who was going to cook. I was just recovering from an illness at the time so I told my uncle’s wife that I wouldn’t be able to cook that day. She asked me to alight and attend a nearby church in order to return home early to cook. I asked her what if she returned before me and she said she would cook if that was the case. That was the deal.

I alighted at Ogui Junction, Enugu and they continued the journey. Around 1pm, I got a call from one of my neighbours that my grandmother was in Enugu, asking why my uncle didn’t come to church. I told them that my uncle went to church and that I only alighted on the way.

The neighbour said I should come back home immediately. I did and saw my grandma. I took her into the house and alerted some other neighbours that my uncle was missing. Around 8pm that night we didn’t see him so I called some of our relatives living in Enugu. They organised a search party.

One of them came to report that there was no accident on the road, and that they didn’t see him in any of the hospitals. I called my mother after 10pm and told her that we were looking for her brother, his wife, children and a neighbour’s daughter. She said she would be in Enugu the next morning. The next day, my uncle residing in Enugu came and told me that they all died in a motor accident the previous day.

How did you feel since you were with them in the car before you alighted?

I attribute their death to bad governance. The portion of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, popularly known as Ugwu Onyeama, on which they died is a death trap. It has claimed a lot of lives and my uncle is sadly one of them. He is gone but I implore the government to work on that road so that other families will not be in our situation in future. The government should repair that road. If that will be the only thing my uncle will be remembered for, I think it would be worth it.

My uncle wouldn’t have died if he didn’t drive on that road that day. He has not taken that road before. He used to drive through Miliken Hill but the road was blocked for rehabilitation works the previous day (Saturday). When he got to the New Market, Enugu that Sunday morning, and discovered that the road was blocked, he took the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway and that was where he and the occupants of the car met their death.

My uncle was the breadwinner of the family. To a large extent, he was responsible for my upbringing. He was the one taking care of my grandmother. We are still mourning the loss of our brother and members of his family including the neighbour’s daughter. --Punch

Posted 19/08/2018 06:45:49 AM

 

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