The extent of sorrow that followed the collapse of a pedestrian bridge in Kano struck home last Tuesday, when the widow of the deceased, Maryam Saleh narrated her ordeal amidst wails. Her husband, 52 year old taxi driver, Abdulkarim Saleh drove the ill-fated car that was crushed under a pedestrian bridge in Kano last week alongside 79 year Balarabe Abubakar from Fagge quarters and 27 year old Faiza Wada Kura.
The septuagenarian was on her way to a wedding ceremony while Faiza who also left three children behind, was going to see her doctor before the accident that ended their sojourn on earth.
Maryam’s pathetic story drew more pity when she revealed that Abdulkarim, the breadwinner, left behind seven children. She is also in an advanced pregnancy with the eighth child.
“To Allah we shall return but this is terrible. I don’t even know where to start from because everything seems to have collapsed on me like the bridge did to my husband. Government should please help us because we have very young children who are in school and there is nobody left anymore to bear their educational burden”, she said emotionally, amidst sobs, adding that Abdulkarim left home as if he had premonition of his death from the way he bid her goodbye.
It was a gory sight by all description and a rare occurrence since the development drive of the Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso administration in the last four years. But at the twilight of the regime, contractors, according to credible sources, are hastening work to enable them get paid before another government takes over.
Before the accident on Sunday afternoon about 4.30 pm, the contractors had redirected traffic flowing through the uncompleted pedestrian bridge at Dorayi area of Kano metropolis close to the old campus of the Bayero University, Kano. But as usual, some motorists would take advantage of any amount of opportunity to ignore caution or emulate anyone ahead of them just to get out of a gridlock.
However, unknown to a tricycle (Keke NAPEP) driver of a looming tragedy, he muscled through a pass and rode off into the distance. Seeing the triumph, a Golf model taxi cab also pushed through the small pass running under the pedestrian bridge still under construction. By this time, a kiloton concrete beam newly laid on top of the pillars came crashing down. That was the genesis of the tragedy that snuffed life from the taxi driver, Abdulkarim Saleh and two others.
The trio, according to the state Commissioner for Works, Abba Kabiru Yusuf, was smashed to death with no survivor. For the anatomy of the accident to sink home to the reader, he needs to imagine the shape of a metal kerosene gallon trampled by a massive Indian elephant.
It took the combined efforts of the Federal Road Safety Corps, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Kano State Fire Service and the Nigeria Police with the use of four cranes to lift the heavy beam off the compressed car.
Furthermore, the car had to be cut to pieces to enable them retrieve the mangled remains of the victims.
The horror continued the second day at the same spot. On Monday, another part of the bridge fell on a tricycle but missed the driver by whiskers, only damaging the front wheel.
Despite the horror, deprivation and sorrow that followed the loss of lives, succour is not likely to come the way of Maryam and others, as her appeal to the government has already been parried off to another quarter. Jaafar Jaafar, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations to the state governor, said the construction company handling the bridge has to bear full responsibility for failing to cordon off the area with red tape, pending the completion and certification of the project by government.
“Instead of people to mourn the death of the victims and blame the company of failure to close the road, some disgruntled elements are busy accusing government”, Jaafar said.
Clearing government of blame, he said, “Forty minutes before the tragedy, government supervisors headed by the commissioner of works picked holes in the placement of beams and advised the construction company to immediately rectify the anomaly before moving to the next stage”.
He however prayed for the soul of victims to rest in peace.
For now, it is not clear if the company has responded to Maryam’s plea but her fate has triggered tumultuous sympathy all over the city with quiet pledges of help to the families of the dead. However, comedy has apparently surrounded the saga such that in one breath the state government terminated the contracts issued to the unnamed contractor and blacklisted it from future jobs in the state. Few days later, the works commissioner has revalidated the contract.
The contractor has also added comedy to the tragedy by accusing evil spirits of hand in the collapse of the bridge.


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