Collision between two buses in Senegal: 39 dead, three days of national mourning
Sylvie Claire / January 9, 2023
Thirty-nine people were killed and a hundred injured in Senegal in a collision between two buses, leading President Macky Sall to declare a three-day national mourning and to announce immediate measures to improve safety.
The accident, the deadliest in this West African country in recent years, occurred on Saturday night around 3:00 a.m. local time near the town of Kaffrine, about 250 km southeast of the capital Dakar, according to the fire department and local authorities.
The government announced on Sunday evening that the latest death toll from the accident in the town of Sikilo was 39, with 53 injured in hospital and 42 more slightly injured being treated in local health centers. "The two buses would have contained 139 passengers at the time of the accident," the government said in a statement. Ten of the injured are in "vital emergency", said President Sall after visiting the injured at the hospital in Kaffrine with his Prime Minister Amadou Ba.
More than 20 bodies have already been identified and will soon be returned to their families," he added. The head of state, who had previously decided on "a three-day national mourning period starting Monday", promised swift measures to avoid the repetition of a new "tragedy" of this kind. "We can not expose the lives of our compatriots in a transport system that disregards respect for human life," said Sall.
From Monday the Prime Minister will convene an interministerial council to take measures on the condition of vehicles, technical control, the issuance of driving licenses or transport schedules, he said. "We are ready, of course, as a state to accompany the transport sector for the renewal of the fleet and the limitation of the ages of public transport vehicles that come from abroad," he continued, assuring that the necessary measures would be "taken tomorrow.
The mayor of Kaffrine, Abdoulaye Saydou Sow, who is also the Minister of Urban Planning and Housing, and the public prosecutor of the neighboring city of Kaolack blamed the collision on a burst tire on one of the two buses, which then veered off course.
The main Senegalese opponent Ousmane Sonko, a candidate in the 2024 presidential election, said on Twitter to postpone a fundraising operation because of the accident and called on the authorities to "give priority attention" to road insecurity, a "scourge with disastrous human, social and economic consequences for the country.
Bus accidents are common in Africa, due to poorly maintained vehicles, bad roads, and driving errors, with many motorists holding licenses purchased from corrupt inspectors without ever having attended driving school.
Twenty-one people died Saturday night in East Africa in a bus accident on the border between Kenya and Uganda, Ugandan police said Sunday. The majority of the dead are Kenyan nationals, but there are also eight Ugandans. According to the police, 49 people were injured.
According to the first elements of the investigation, the driver lost control of the vehicle due to excessive speed.
The Ugandan government is preparing new measures to improve road safety after an increase in fatal accidents during the holiday season. According to the Ugandan police, 104 road accidents were recorded in just three days, from December 30 to January 1, resulting in 35 deaths and 114 injuries.