… Company advertises safety, despite several auto mishaps
It was a pleasant experience on August 17; the first time Safety Record placed a call through to the customer care centre of a transport service provider, Peace Mass Transit – with the intention to seek information for this story.
On the first ring, an auto-tune greeted the reporter with a welcoming message: “Welcome to Peace Mass Transit, where safety is our number one priority.” Also, the call centre agent, who picked the call after just a few rings, sounded polite and very helpful.
As the call auto-tune greeter indicates, is safety really the number one priority in Peace Mass Transit?
The transport company had long enjoyed patronage from passengers who arrived their destinations safely all the time. But of late, the rate at which their buses experience accidents has called for concern.
On May 22, 2016, Mrs. Dorine Darlington Obi, a woman who had been married for less than three years, became a widow. That day, she lost her husband and young daughter in a tragic auto crash. She posted pictures of the deceased on Facebook, as many Nigerians commiserated with her on her loss and rained curses on the transport company that caused her grief.
Mrs. Obi captioned the picture, “Peace Mass has taken the life of my husband and Jasmine. RIP my darling hubby and daughter.”
Mr. Darlington Obi and her two year-old daughter, Jasmine, along with 13 others, were travelling on an 18-seater Toyota Hiace Bus with plate number AKL 895 YY owned and operated by Peace Mass Transit (PMT) Limited, when the vehicle had a head-on collision with a trailer, killing father and daughter instantly.
Eleven other passengers also lost their lives in the crash, which occurred at Ofeme Junction of Umuahia Road, as the bus made its way from Enugu to Abia state.
One of the two survivors, Mrs Chidinma Eze, 32, who was badly injured, blamed the driver of the PMT bus for the crash.
“We had passed Abia Tower and heading to Okigwe. The driver was driving on a very high speed inside the rain,” she told Saturday Sun at the time. Mrs Eze, a diesel seller, added that she was sleeping at the time of the crash.
Confirming the incident, the Sector Commander, FRSC Abia State Command, Mrs Stella Uche, exonerated the PMT driver, laying the blame on the driver of the Man Diesel trailer.
“The accident was caused by excess speeding on the part of the Man Diesel driver. It lost control and veered into the route of the bus,” she stated.
An unnamed witness buttressed the FRSC Sector Commander’s statement, telling The Punch that the incident occurred as a result of the trailer driver’s carelessness.
“The bus driver was driving at a good speed because he was almost at Umuahia which is the final destination. It was the driver of the trailer that lost control of the vehicle because he was speeding and suddenly, it derailed into the path of the bus,” the witness said.
So went back-and-forth argument on who was right.
However, June 30 was another bloody day involving a bus belonging to the transport company. On this occasion, a PMT bus conveying passengers from Enugu to Bayelsa state was involved in an accident at Okogbe town, along Emezi road.
Eyewitness reports say all its occupants died except a baby, with a witness claiming that as many as 19 souls perished.
The witnesses also revealed that some unknown men drove in and set to the task of cleaning the company’s name off the ill-fated bus, but abandoned their mission and zoomed off when a crowd gathered. The company neither confirmed nor denied the report.
But this time, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the body charged with the responsibility of making the highway safe for motorists and other road users, had had enough. On July 13, the Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi, summoned PMT managers for explanations on how the company’s vehicles had come to be involved in 11 road crashes between January and June this year in which 37 people were killed and 58 others injured.
It was further revealed that the company’s buses had, between January and December 2015, been involved in eight crashes involving 62 casualties, with seven dead and 55 injured.
The Corps Marshal described the situation as “worrisome, unacceptable and needs to be urgently addressed”.
Speaking to the company’s managers, Oyeyemi attributed the road crashes involving the company’s buses to systematic safety failure, adding that the FRSC was conscious of its responsibilities to road users through…
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