New Year’s Eve tragedy: 12 die in Ibadan road crash

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…As 2019 elections draw near, stock exchange plunges by 19.77%***

With about 15 minutes to the New Year, 12 lives were reportedly lost in a road crash on Monday near the Bola Ige International Market, Gbagi, along the new Ife-Ibadan Expressway in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

Our correspondent gathered that the victims were crushed to death by a truck coming from the Iwo Road area, which reportedly rammed into commercial buses and other vehicles by the entrance to the market.

Around the same time, firefighters were battling to extinguish an inferno that had engulfed goods estimated at several millions of naira at a shopping complex within the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, in the Ekotedo area of Ibadan. No life was lost in the incident.

The Gbagi Market accident, which occurred around 11.45pm, led to gridlock that saw vehicles heading for Ile-Ife in Osun State stranded for several hours.

Although eyewitness could not say if the truck had suffered break failure or if the affected buses were carelessly parked on the road, sources confirmed that two people initially survived the accident and were taken to a nearby hospital, while about 12 other passengers were said to have died immediately.

Apart from the commercial buses, a Toyota Camry and Nissan Micra cars were also said to have been crushed by the truck.

Sources said that many of the victims were going to churches for the crossover service in the Iyana-Agbala and Egbeda areas of the city.

The situation also made many, who were on their way to churches for the service, to be stranded on the highway.

The dead victims included a pregnant woman, identified simply as Mrs Funmilayo, who was said to be on her way to her in-laws’, a bus driver identified as ‘Orobo Baba Welder’, and many others who could not be identified as of the time of filing this report.

Confirming the accident, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Adekunle Ajisebutu, however, put the casualty figure at 11.

 A report by the Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps in the state, Mrs Cecilia Alao, indicated that 12 people died as a result of the accident and that their corpses had been deposited in the morgue of the Oyo State Specialist Hospital, Adeoyo.

She noted that aside the nine, who died on the spot, three others lost their lives on Tuesday, out of the 10 injured victims, who were taken to the Toun Specialist Hospital, Iwo Road, for medical attention.

The FRSC statement on the accident read in part, “The command recorded a fatal road traffic crash on Monday, December 31, 2018, around 11.45pm at Km 3 Gbagi, along the Ibadan-Ile-Ife highway.

 “Report of the crash was received at 11.56pm and was responded to accordingly by a detachment of FRSC standby rescue team within 11 minutes of the receipt of the information.

“Three vehicles with the following details were involved in the crash: a red DAF 85 truck with no number plate; a golden Toyota Camry salon car with number plate KJA 672 CG; and a white Toyota Hiace bus with number plate MUS 171 XF.

“A total of 19 people were involved in the crash, consisting of 10 male adults, eight female adults and one male child.

“As of the time of the conclusion of rescue operations, nine victims were confirmed dead and their corpses were deposited in the morgue of the Oyo State Specialist Hospital, Adeoyo, while 10 injured victims were conveyed to the Toun Specialist Hospital, Iwo Road area, for medical attention.

“Subsequent hospital follow-up conducted by the command on Tuesday, January 1, 2019, indicated that additional three victims had also died, making the total fatality figure of 12, consisting of eight male adults, three female adults and one male child, while seven injured victims made up of two male adults and five female adults are still on admission and receiving treatment.”

The report added, “Preliminary investigation suggests that brake failure resulting in the loss of control was the causative factor of the road crash.

“Meanwhile, road obstruction caused by the multiple crashes was duly cleared by the FRSC personnel around 2.14am on January 1, 2019, thereby ensuring the sustenance of smooth traffic flow.

“Whilst it is crucial to commiserate with the families of the deceased and wish the injured quick recovery, it is imperative to state that effective maintenance of vehicle components and general adherence to safety rules are strongly recommended to forestall a recurrence of the unfortunate accident.”

An eyewitness, Waris Olatunde, said that a bus belonging to his boss, ‘Orobo Baba Welder’ had loaded passengers on the spot of the crash and was ready to commence its journey to Ile-Ife when the truck crossed the road and crushed the vehicles.

Olatunde, who claimed to be the conductor of the bus, said he narrowly escaped death because the driver had paid him N200 and asked him to go back home instead of joining him on the trip.

He said, “It was God that saved me. Usually, I use to collect money for him from passengers before he would leave the park, but in this case, he said since it was late already, I should take N200 and go home.

“He told me that he would collect the fare himself from the passengers. The man just closed the side door of the vehicle and before he entered from the driver’s side, the trailer had cross to his side and killed everyone in the vehicle. A Toyota Camry and some Nissan Micra cars were also crushed.”

Another eyewitness, who claimed to be a neighbour of the deceased pregnant woman, Mrs Iseoluwa Opeyemi, stated amid tears that the woman, popularly called Funmilayo, was on her way to her mother in-law’s place at the Iyana Agbala area of the city when the accident occurred.

She said, “The deceased was a very hardworking woman. Her family just moved to their new house last Saturday and she died last night.

“She came to our house and told us that she was going to her mother in-law’s place, unknown to us that she was going to die. Her only son, who survived the crash, is now in the hospital. I was there this morning and the boy is recuperating, though his head was partially injured. I pray the little boy survives this.”

In the meantime, the year 2018 was not so rosy for the Nigerian Stock Exchange as its crucial indicators depreciated by 19.77 per cent due to uncertainties surrounding the forthcoming general elections.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the exchange which was named the third best performing stock exchange in the world in 2017 with over 43 per cent return-on-investment performed dismally in 2018.

Experts said the market, which started the first quarter on a positive note, nosedived due to the withdrawal of funds by foreign portfolio investors who were worried over the forthcoming elections.

A breakdown of the foreign investment outflow from the exchange between January and September 2018 showed that a total of N513.49bn left the country during the period.

This amounted to 63 per cent increase in total outflow compared with N315.04bn withdrawn in the same period in 2017.

Although both total foreign investment inflow and outflow increased month-on-month in September relative to the previous month, outflow grew at a higher speed, rising 27.6 per cent to N43.78bn from N34.31bn in August.

Foreign investment inflow, on the other hand, rose by 10.6 per cent to N40.54bn from N36.7bn in the previous month.

Investment experts, who attributed the sell-offs and the attendant foreign investment outflows to political risks, said the trend would be sustained throughout the election period.

Specifically, the All-Share Index ,which opened trading in 2018 at 38, 243.19, shed 6, 812.69 points or 17.81 per cent to close at 31,430.50, eroding over 43 per cent growth posted in 2017.

Similarly, the market capitalisation, which opened at N13.609trn, dipped by N1.89trn to close on December 31, 2018 at N11.720trn.

Commenting on the performance of the market, Head of Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University Keffi, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, described 2018 as a very disappointing year for the equities’ market.

“With positive returns of over 40 per cent in 2017, Nigeria was ranked the third best performing stock market in the world after Argentina and Turkey.

“On the other hand, between January and December 2018, the market has plunged into a bear territory having lost over 20 per cent from its peak in January when it posted 16 per cent return.

“The dismal performance of the market has been in spite of improved corporate results announced by listed companies as well as stronger macroeconomic performance,” Uwaleke said.

He noted that the economy expanded faster in 2018, in terms of GDP by 1.95 per cent, 1.5 per cent and 1.8 per cent in the first,second and third quarters respectively, when compared with 0.8 per cent averaged in 2017.

“Again, the inflation rate is lower and the exchange rate has been stable on the back of stronger external reserves helped by higher oil prices and output relative to 2017.

“In the light of these, two major factors explain the weak performance of the market in 2018.

“The first is exogenous, the increasing yield environment in the US following the normalisation of interest rate by the US Federal Reserve. The second is the political tension ahead of next year’s general elections,” Uwaleke stated.

He highlighted the factors that would shape the performance of the stock market in 2019 to include the monetary policy stance of the US Federal Reserve, the extent to which the US-China trade tension and Brexit impacted global economic growth.

Others are: the ability of OPEC and its allies to keep oil prices high, political tension/outcome of the country’s elections, the fate of the 2019 budget and the direction of monetary policy in Nigeria.

On the way forward, he urged the Federal Government to defuse political tension and ensure free, fair and credible elections to boost investors’ confidence.

Uwaleke added that effective budget implementation would help create the right environment for both domestic and foreign investors.

A chartered stockbroker and Chief Executive Officer, Sofunix Investment and Communications, Mr. Sola Oni, attributed the lacklustre performance of the capital market to illiquidity.

Oni said massive share dumping by nervous portfolio investors and their Nigerian counterparts who were apprehensive over the 2019 general election led to the trend.

He said the development was reinforced by unguarded utterances of the political class.

Oni said the factors that would shape the market in 2019 generally revolved around the weak global economy of which the exchange could not be insulated.

He explained that the outcome of the next elections and the ability to tackle the ongoing economic challenges, especially investment in infrastructure, management of fiscal and monetary policies, would shape stock market activities this year.

Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd., Mr. Ambrose Omordion, described 2018 as a volatile and bearish year due to the interest rate hike, mixed corporate earnings and political uncertainties.

Omordion said peaceful conduct of the general elections, good economic reforms and diversification would drive economic activities in 2019.

Additional report from Punch