Senegal: at least 40 dead in a collision between two buses, a national mourning decreed

40 people were killed and dozens injured in a collision between two buses overnight from Saturday to Sunday in Senegal, where President Macky Sall declared a three-day national mourning. The accident, the deadliest in the West African country in recent years, took place at 3:15 a.m. local time (03:15 GMT) on Sunday near the town of Kaffrine, about 250 km southeast of the capital Dakar, according to the National Fire Brigade.

According to a government statement, the frontal collision resulted in a new provisional report, “40 dead, 36 seriously injured and 49 slightly injured”. A previous assessment of the firefighters and the prosecution reported 38 dead.

Call to fight against road insecurity

The head of state, “deeply saddened by the tragic road accident”, decided on “a national mourning for three days from Monday”. He is expected on site in the afternoon, as are the Prime Minister and several ministers. An interministerial council will be held on Monday for “taking firm measures on road safety and public passenger transport”, said the head of state.

The public prosecutor of Kaolack gave details on the cause of the tragedy: “according to the first elements of the investigation (…), a bus assigned to the public transport of passengers, following the bursting of a tire, left its path before colliding head-on with another bus coming in the opposite direction”. The victims were transported to Kaffrine hospital, the carcasses of the buses cleared and the road reopened to traffic, according to the firefighters.

The main Senegalese opponent Ousmane Sonko, candidate for the 2024 presidential election, indicated on Twitter that he was postponing 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”.

Permits bought from corrupt inspectors

Bus accidents are frequent in Africa, due to poor vehicle maintenance, bad roads but also driving errors, many motorists being holders of permits bought from corrupt inspectors, without having ever attended driving school. 21 people were killed on Saturday evening in East Africa in a bus accident on the border between Kenya and Uganda, Ugandan police said on Sunday. The majority of those who died are of Kenyan nationality but there are also eight Ugandans. According to the police, 49 people were injured. According to the first elements of the investigation, the driver would have lost control of the vehicle due to excessive speed.

The Ugandan government is preparing new measures to improve road safety after a spike in fatalities during the holiday season. According to the Ugandan police, 104 road accidents were recorded in just three days, from December 30 to January 1, leaving 35 dead and 114 injured.

Last week, at least 14 people were killed in Côte d’Ivoire and 73 injured in a collision between two buses in Yamoussoukro (center) and 18 people died in a collision between two vehicles in northern Nigeria.

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