Tragedy struck in Ugep community in Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River as a Toyota saloon car skidded off the road and rammed into the market, killing 8 persons and destroying shops in the process.
The incident, which occurred on Tuesday at about 5:00 pm, was said to have been as a result of brake failure that led to the loss of control by the driver.
Our correspondent’s checks revealed that the car was coming in from Abi Local Government Area, but lost its brakes at Ediba junction in Ugep town, forcing the driver to ram into several shops, killing three persons including a young man and 2 ladies on the spot.
The five others injured were said to be taken to a private hospital where they later died.
The driver, simply identified as John Egbe, an indigene of Abi, was said to be seriously injured and receiving treatment in an undisclosed private clinic in Ugep.
A witness, Emmanuel Ubi, said of the incident: “I was just walking down to the market about 5:00 when I saw the Toyota Camry running through several shops following a brake failure. In the process, three persons were crushed on the spot while five others were injured and rushed to the hospital. Besides, goods and property worth several millions of naira were destroyed.
“It is an unfortunate incident that could have been avoided if the driver, who claimed he knew the terrain very well, had not been on speed.
“I feel very sad about the tragedy. I had expected the driver to know that every Tuesday is usually our market day in Ugep where traders from nearby communities usually come to buy foodstuff and other agro produce. Therefore, he needed to drive safely when approaching the junction connecting the market.
“I can tell you that the other five persons who were rushed to the hospital have all given up the ghost, while three more are still receiving treatment and not sure whether they would survive,” he stated.
Another witness, identified as Mbogha Ejom, decried the reckless driving and a series of accidents that have occurred on the Ediba-Ugep junction, especially during festive periods when motorists are always in a rush.
According to him, it was high time local government authorities constructed speed-breakers on that spot to curtail the rate of accidents and subsequent loss of lives and property.
He also called on local government authorities to relocate the roadside markets in Ugpe urban, considering the volume of traffic on the Ikom-Ugep-Calabar highway.
Worried by the incessant accidents on the market axis, a local government official, Mr Emmanuel Iwara, said they had done everything possible to relocate the roadside market to no avail, adding that this New Year’s ghastly accident would make the traders think twice.
“The market authorities have been chasing these traders out of the street, especially along this highway axis. But the moment the market task force closes for the day, the traders would return because they make brisk business.
“So we hope to re-enforce the no-highway trading by-law and enforce stiffer penalties to avoid this kind of carnage,” he stated.