Eseka train derailment: Investigations hold French rail company responsible

The government of Cameroon has found the French rail company Camrail responsible for the fatal Eseka train accident that claimed more than 100 lives and left close to one thousand persons injured in 2016. Camrail is blamed for excessively high speed, 96 km/h on a terrible rail track where the normal speed ought to be 40km/h. The president has disbursed FCFA 1bilion worth of supplementary assistance to victims and relatives of the derailment. The president has also announced the erection of a monument at Eseka in remembrance of the victims of the accident.

The incident which is one of the most deadly train accidents in the history of Cameroon occurred in Eseka, Yaounde on 21st October 2016. After the terrible incident, the president of Cameroon instructed the prime minister to lead a commission to investigate the causes of the derailment, propose ways of preventing such catastrophes , determine the people to carry the blame as well as evaluate the management of the accident… That was on 25th October 2016, four days after the accident The results of the investigations hold Camrail (the French company in charge of rail transport in Cameroon) responsible for the accident.

According to the government, Camrail did not only fail to respect speed limit. In fact, the locomotive had unreliable brakes. Camrail failed to examine the locomotive and wagons before departure. And most importantly, complaints from the conductors were ignored, they say. The investigations also revealed the problem of overloading. Rumours that followed the accident claimed that some passengers stood up while others even took refuge in the toilets. Government recommends better involvement of the State in Camrail in a bit to curb further complications. The people who are to blame for the accident are to be duly held responsible, says the message.

President Paul Biya has instructed the prime minister to ensure the respect of the measures and decisions outlined in the communiqué. The president also urges CamraiL to finalise reparation measures it undertook as soon as possible. The results of the investigation were to be published after one month, that was in November but they took several months to reach the public on Tuesday 23 May 2017. The communique was read on Tuesday on the state-run CRTV.

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