The dam, which is about 70 kilometres away from Kano metropolitan area, has thus become a thing of concern not only for travellers along the road but also for the residents of the area, who lamented that incidents of vehicles plunging into the dam have become a recurring tale.
The road that passes over the dam is a death trap, according to the residents of the area and travellers, because of the absence of barricades that can prevent vehicles from plunging into the dam in case of an accident on the axis.
Eyewitnesses told Daily Trust that the recent accident at the dam involving a vehicle with 16 persons including the driver, occurred Saturday evening and it took the prompt intervention of the fishermen and others around the area to rescue six persons alive while seven were brought out unconscious and later confirmed dead that night, and three others were also brought out unconscious and later confirmed dead the following morning.
Zayyanu Rabiu, a fisherman and one of the rescuers, told Daily Trust that the incident was a result of a faulty vehicle parked by the side of the road. He said stones were put on the road to make the incoming vehicles slow down while approaching the faulty vehicle but unfortunately, the vehicle involved in the accident ran into the stones and the driver lost control of the vehicle.
“The vehicle was coming from the Kano axis and when it hit the stones on the road, it plunged into the river with the tires of the vehicle facing up. We rescued six persons; three males and three females alive, but 10 others died. Out of the dead ones are three little children,” Rabiu said.
Lauwali Siniya, a resident of a neighbouring community, who also participated in the rescue mission, said the recurring accidents by the dam have become very worrisome because “it happens three to four times a year” and there has been zero intervention from the governments to address the major factor responsible for it – the lack of barricade by the dam.
Daily Trust reports that this accident is coming barely two weeks after another one led to the death of 14 persons on another highway leading to Kano. In this instance, two vehicles were said to have collided along Gaya-Wudil Road leading to a major inferno that instantly left 13 persons burnt to death while six others were injured and taken to the hospital where one other person was later confirmed dead. The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) put the cause of this accident to over-speeding and dangerous overtaking.
These two major causes of accidents are also said to be prevalent on Kano-Katsina Road by Fada Dam, which according to travellers and residents of the area, have left many vehicles to end up in the river especially because of the absence of speed breakers or rails to serve as barricades by the dam.
“There should be a wire (as a barricade) by the side of the road like we often see elsewhere so that even if a car veers off the road, like what happened on Saturday, it won’t end up in the river and the passengers drown,” Siniya advised.
He added: “The wire should be fixed by the north and south banks so that whenever a vehicle skids off due to whatever reason, be it over speeding or loss of control, God will use the barricade to protect the vehicle and those that are inside. This is a problem that happens three to four times a year. I am not a fisherman but these fishermen are the ones that dive into the water to save people and recover corpses every year. Whenever they are informed on time, they often save people alive although some eventually die in the hospital while many with just local first aid regain their consciousness.
“I call on the authorities if there is a chance to assist us with these protective wires that will prevent cars or motorcycles from drowning in the river.”
Like Siniya, Nalami Lawan Mainika, the Secretary of Vigilante Group in Gwarzo Local Government Area, believes that the presence of protective metals by the roadside would help in no small measure to help prevent future occurrences.
But he added that the fishermen and other rescuers have a different grouse and it may be difficult to get them to render rescue operations next time if something is not done to correct what they considered as injustice being done to them by the authorities.
“Anytime there is an accident, we spend nights at the scene guarding the vehicles on this dam no matter how cold or even if it is raining while the fishermen dive into the water. Then eventually, we would hear that the Fire Service did all the work. I told the DPO yesterday that if they continue to do that, we will stop our boys from doing the work and we will not supervise it. It is not respectful that after our boys do the work someone else would take the credit,” he lamented.
The spokesman of the Fire Service in Kano had said in a statement that operatives of the service had carried out the rescue operations in conjunction with the fishermen, but the fishermen said they rescued the victims without the assistance of the Fire Service.
Zayyanu Rabiu and Buhari Sule Mainuka, who led other fishermen in the operation, also shared a similar view with Mainika, but they believe that there will not be an issue of taking credit, especially in a matter that involves loss of lives if the authorities concerned come to the aid of the travellers by erecting barricades by the bank of the dam.
Human, not environmental factors responsible – FRSC
Reacting, the Kano Sector Commander of the FRSC, Zubairu Mato, said most of the accidents on that axis were majorly a result of human error and not the environmental condition, adding that the vehicle involved in the latest accident was overloaded with passengers and goods.
“They usually target when our operatives have closed for the day and in this case, it was both a case of overloading and over-speeding that led to the tire bursting at high speed and the driver losing control. Most of them (drivers) will even carry another passenger by their left-hand side making it four persons in front. You see how it will be difficult for the driver to effectively control the vehicle in such situations,” he said.
On the appeal for a barricade by the road, Mato said his office had in its last month road audit report made a case for the barricade and that the report would have been forwarded to the Minister of Works for appropriate action, adding that the road is still under construction.
“But even with a barrier, if drivers still don’t follow traffic rules like in this situation, they will crush the barrier and end up in the dam. That is why we keep advocating the necessity of speed limit devices, which will ensure that even when we are not on the road, the drivers do not over-speed,” he added.
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