By Eric Tataw – Saturday August 3, 2019.
The Cameroon Government has ridiculed itself, pundits have said citing a recent bulletin from the Prime Ministry. The Secretary General at the Prime Minister’s office on Friday August 2, 2019 published an official list of all victims injured in a train accident that occurred in Eseka that left several persons dead.
The publication of the list is coming three years after the accident happened on 21 October 2016, killing over 79, a thing that has come as a surprise to many, further confirming the inflexible nature of Cameroon’s governance.
According to the list, 744 persons had injuries. Those interested are invited to the auditorium of the Prime Minister’s office on August 9, 2019 to consult the list beginning at 10am, the communiqué says.
The surprising thing is that some victims had been compensated after the country’s President put in place a commission to investigate the accident. One billion in Cameroon Francs was disbursed to victims.
How come a new list has now resurfaced, pundits have asked, adding that which other money would be used to compensate new names on this 2019 list?
On 21 October 2016, a CAMRAIl, an inter-city passenger train travelling from Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé, to its largest city, Douala, derailed in Eséka, Nyong-et-Kelle, a Division in the country’s Centre Region.
On 23 May, 2017 Secretary-General at the Presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, issued a Press Statement making public the results of government findings into the accident and also announced measures to avoid further incidents.
According to the findings, CAMRAIL was accorded full responsibility for the accident and the sum of FCFA one billion was disbursed as compensation to victims of the accident. A monument was also erected at Eseka in honour of those who lost their lives in the accident and so on.
“My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of the Camrail train derailment in Eseka. Over 70 passengers died and 600 wounded in the accident,” President Paul Biya, wrote on his official Facebook page.
Officials said the train had been carrying 1,300 passengers, instead of the usual 600. Sources however said a bridge along the main highway between the Yaoundé and Douala had collapsed, prompting more people to undertake the journey by rail.
Eyewitnesses said eight additional wagons were added to the normally nine-wagon train in order to accommodate extra passengers.
Camrail, a subsidiary of the Bolloré Group, was found guilty of manslaughter by the country’s Justice Department following the investigation. The company however disputed the decision and citing lack of qualified expertise.
However, on November 2017, a judge in Eseka, Marcel Ndigui Ndigui handed a verdict that the carrier and 11 of its employees were convicted of manslaughter.
The former Director General, Didier Vandenbon was given suspended six months in prison for manslaughter, simple injuries and dangerous activity. Others received between three and five and the driver was slammed five years while at large.