I REFER to the fatal car crash which took the life of Pastor Joseph Kingal.
Before we start pointing fingers and blaming other people, let me put forward three things which I consider relevant:
1. Bridge location and approach
The current Zumim bridge was constructed and opened to traffic more than six years ago. During the years that followed, there were no reported accidents until only recently. So if there was something wrong with the bridge, then immediately upon the opening, we would have reported accidents. If you were to compare the curvature of the approach (Watarais side) as it is today to that of the original concrete bridge, the radius has been improved. Therefore, we must not refer to the bridge as a death trap.
2. The vehicle
The condition of the vehicle is also important in assessing the cause of the accident. But I am told that the pastor’s vehicle was a brand new Toyota Landcruiser 5-door. Now this is going to be interesting; almost all the accidents that have occurred at that bridge involved Toyota Landcruisers. I have driven one and I must say that it is unstable especially around corners with speeds over 80kph. The older version is safer but not for speeds over 120kph. From seeing the graphical presentation of the accident in The National (Oct 20), I believe the pastor must have been driving well over 120kph.
3. The driver
The pastor’s state of mind, physical and emotional condition at that time must also be considered, and no one knows these except himself. I read that he has just completed a week-long crusade in Madang and was returning to Lae. I know what crusades are like and I know that they can go well into the nights, and many times these crusades finish around midnight (the ones in Lae do anyway). If this was the case in Madang, then the pastor might not have enough sleep over that past week. Lack of rest/sleep coupled with the long distant driving is the poison for fatigue stress and a slight misjudgment can be fatal.
All I am saying is let us not jump into conclusion too quickly.
Lastly, I would like to convey my condolence to family and friends for their loss.
I know Kingal had touched the hearts of many but it is comforting for us to know that the late pastor is with the heavenly one above.