“I did not feel secure”: Assurances overshadowed by Afcon bus accident.

“I did not feel secure”: Assurances overshadowed by Afcon bus accident.


Prior to the Africa Cup of Nations, this reporter inquired of Patrice Motsepe, president of the Confederation of African Football (Caf), if he could ensure that there would not be any repeat of the tragic loss of life and injuries witnessed at the Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé, Cameroon during the 2022 tournament, when it takes place in Ivory Coast.

Motsepe, the president of Caf, stated that he takes full responsibility for whatever occurs at the Africa Cup of Nations. He shared that one of the most difficult tasks he faces is meeting with the victims and their loved ones after the recent tragedy in Yaoundé. Motsepe also mentioned that he has had in-depth conversations and consultations with President Alassane Ouattara and the authorities in Ivory Coast to ensure the safety and security of all individuals during the tournament.

Alex Cizmic may not find much comfort in that guarantee.

An Italian journalist named Cizmic, who has contributed to the Guardian, was riding in a shuttle bus run by the tournament’s organizers with coworkers from Yamoussoukro to Abidjan. They had just attended a match between Guinea and Senegal when the bus collided with a concrete barrier on the motorway around 2am on Wednesday.

Cizmic expressed feeling unsafe during the journey due to the driver’s fast driving. Based on observations in both this location and Cameroon, taxi and bus drivers do not prioritize safe driving. Cizmic tried to remain calm and remind themselves that they were almost at their destination in Abidjan when they heard someone yell “be careful” as the bus collided with the highway wall on the right side.

I reminded myself, “I hope it will stop, I hope it will stop…” Thankfully, the driver attempted to regain control of the bus, causing me to fall into the middle and ultimately saving me. This was fortunate because I was sitting next to the volunteer who became trapped in the aftermath of the collision.

“If I had been seated, the extent of my injuries would have been much worse. I sustained an injury on my right hand, which is now swollen and preventing me from working or writing. Additionally, I have minor injuries on my head, legs, and left arm, but overall I am doing alright. The experience was quite shocking and I am still trying to process everything.”

Buster Emil Kirchner, a journalist from Denmark, stated that the driver of their journey took numerous risks. Despite many of them being asleep, they could still feel the driver’s use of the brakes at various times. The accident occurred just outside of Treichville.

I was sitting in the seat right behind the driver, and my initial thought was that we needed to exit the bus [through the windows] before it caught fire. Within seconds, most of us were able to evacuate the bus and check ourselves for injuries.

Due to the bus’s windows being smashed, our only means of exiting was through them. We had to assist each other in the process. Once outside, there was some chaos, but we eventually made our way to the hospital in Treichville. As a friend of Alex, I accompanied him during his stay there before returning home.

Satish Sekar, a passenger from Britain, is wearing a sling on his arm. He explains, “I got my arm X-rayed and luckily nothing is broken, but it will take a week or two to heal.”

Caf is yet to release a statement on the accident but a highly placed official within the organisation told the Guardian that the journey took place outside the safety agreements reached with the tournament’s local organising committee (LOC). The three-hour journey of 234km , with no overhead lights on the motorway, began at about 11pm.

According to the official, we had previously informed the LOC that buses should not depart from Yamoussoukro to Abidjan after 8pm. Therefore, it was unexpected to hear that this trip took place. Fortunately, there were no casualties. We have strongly emphasized that such bus journeys should not occur in the future, as it is unsafe for individuals to travel on that road at night.

A person from Cote d’Ivoire who is familiar with the operations of the LOC, and wishes to remain anonymous, stated that: “The drivers’ experience and safety standards have not been given enough attention by the tournament organizers. Some of those hired to drive buses are individuals who normally drive gbakas and woro-woros (old cars and buses that are not properly licensed for public transport). Others are not properly trained for their roles. This accident could have had much more serious consequences. We are lucky that things did not turn out much worse.”

Source: theguardian.com