A real national disaster! No words can better qualify what has now become the Eseka Train Catastrophe that came on the heels of another traumatic incident; the total disruption of land traffic between Yaounde and Douala following the sweeping away of culverts on a bridge over River Manyai in Matomb on Friday 21, October, 2016.
Like in all such dramatic occurrences, emotions are bound to grow stronger with people allowing their minds to wonder in all directions. The advent of the Social Media with its ripple effects! Experts in crisis management might have had their fair-share of the blame and praise for the decisions taken or not as they attempted solutions to what many quickly saw as an end-time prophesy with politicians trying to make capital out of the tragedy.
However, no organised community can remain indifferent to such a disaster. Thus, President Paul Biya in his first reaction at the Nsimalen International Airport on 23 October on return from Europe gave a clear and vivid picture of what had to be done. “My thoughts and immediate words of comfort go out first of all to the families of those killed and to the injured. I wish a speedy recovery to those injured.” Of course, the Head of State went further to point out the importance of staying stronger and united in times of difficulties.
Besides the decision to treat all victims of the train crash at the expense of the State, the Day of National Mourning, the mobilisation by government to tackle the tragedy, the prompt restoration of traffic flow between Yaounde and Douala after 48 hours, the show of solidarity by people across the country through prayers, blood donation and messages of goodwill, the Head of State on 25 October created a commission of inquiry to probe the accident.
Headed by Prime Minister Philemon Yang, the commission has one month to investigate the causes of the crash and make proposals to avoid disasters of that nature; determine those involved and evaluate assistance as well as the management of the disaster. This shows the in-depth nature of the inquiry President Biya promised on arrival at the airport on Sunday 23 October 2016.
Such a methodical and rational approach to a macabre incident like the Eseka train crash needed wit and foresight. Given the maze that the incident created with wild and gory speculations that were taking all directions, solutions can best be found through the systematic approach rather than hijacking the situation for personal gains.
Understandably, this is the worst accident in the history of railway transportation in Cameroon. All efforts to get to the crux of the matter need to be sought instead of seeking to derail public opinion with empty and felonious declarations either on the social media or other mass communication outlets.
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