Three men, identified as Joseph Nyenpan, Friday Brown and Aloysius Stemm met their untimely deaths yesterday when boxes of window glass fell on them from a 40 foot container they were offloading.
Two other persons identified as Henry Paye and Moses Flomo sustained serious injuries and were taken to the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital for treatment.
The accident victims are among scores of men hired daily to offload trucks for wages in the Bushrod Island business district.
Eyewitness accounts indicate that the 40ft container truck bearing license plate # BT 268 was full of boxes of window glass. It was making a delivery to an unidentified Chinese proprietress of African Focus Shoes Trading Company Limited.
The proprietress negotiated with an operator of a forklift and was charged US$800.00 to offload the container. She complained that the fee was too exorbitant and it was later reduced to US$700, which she still could not agree to pay.
In the process, eyewitness accounts said the victims went into an agreement with the Chinese proprietress to offload her container for US$350.00.
While offloading with eagerness to begin the day with a good amount of wages, an eyewitness and local resident in the area said the men improperly unloaded the boxes despite the advice of the proprietress that they were not offloading the goods safely.
“There are 70 pieces of glass in each box. As the men were offloading, the owner told them that they were not taking out the right box at the right time, but they rejected the advice and continued. As they went on, the rest of the boxes lined above dropped on them with no other way to get them out but to break the glass into pieces as you can see here,” the eyewitness narrated, pointing to the pile of broken glass near the container.
Other independent sources said the three men suffocated and died, and the other two were badly cut when the boxes of glass fell on them.
The deceased and the wounded, according to the eyewitness were taken to the JFK Medical Center, and parents and relatives of the deceased have claimed their bodies.
Efforts made to reach the proprietress of the Africa Focus Shoes Trading Company Limited were unsuccessful as she could not be located.
Meanwhile, hard labor jobs like offloading trucks and containers full of merchandise or transporting goods on wheelbarrows or carriages (otherwise known in Liberia as pushpush) is the only occupation available to many young men in Liberia.
An eye witness said they are paid per contract, and depending on the number of contracts and the time it takes them to complete, determine their earnings for the day.
This particular service business booms on Bushrod Island where the Freeport of Monrovia is located providing a steady conveyance of goods from the port to owners in the vicinity and other parts of Monrovia, said a young man who is involved in the business.
Most of the goods including boxes of window glass coming on container trucks should be offloaded by forklift, but because many unemployed men in the country need jobs to sustain themselves, both forklift operators and casual laborers compete for contracts on the Bushrod Island, another man said.