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Thursday, 17 November 2016

Lagos-Ibadan Expressway tanker fire causes 15-hour gridlock…Three killed, two injured

Samuel Awoyinfa, Afeez Hanafi and Tunde Ajaja

A large number of motorists were held up on Wednesday in a 15-hour gridlock, caused by a multiple accident on the Kara Bridge, Ogun State end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

While the motorists could not abandon their vehicles, many commuters, however, resorted to trekking from Berger to the OPIC end of the expressway, where the gridlock eased.
It was also observed that from the scene of the incident in Ogun State, the traffic stretched to the Ogudu and Ikeja areas of Lagos State.

The gridlock was compounded by another tanker loaded with fuel which fell on the Otedola Bridge, Berger, Lagos, and spilled its content.

While three persons died in the Kara Bridge accident, two occupants of the tanker on Otedola Bridge sustained varying degrees of injuries.

PUNCH Metro learnt that the accident at Kara occurred around 2.30am after the driver of a tanker loaded with diesel lost control of the vehicle and rammed into a truck conveying crates of beer.

A few minutes later, another truck brushed the side of a Toyota Corolla and ran into the tanker and the truck. The impact ignited the fire.

As the fire raged, another truck carrying bags of flour rammed into the burning vehicles. The truck and the flour were partially consumed by the raging fire.

It was gathered that six vehicles – three trucks, two trailers, and one Toyota Corolla – were involved in the crash, which resulted in a fire outbreak. The inferno reportedly raged for about an hour before it was put out by men of the Lagos State Fire Service.

However, the flour was still smoldering as of 10am when one of our correspondents visited the scene.

No fewer than three persons were burnt to death, while five of the vehicles were razed, bringing traffic to a standstill.  One of the trailers had KTU 396 XK as its number plate.

The corpses of the victims were said to have been deposited in a morgue.

It took a joint effort of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, the National Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Road Safety Corps, the Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Agency (TRACE), the police, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Nigerian Army to completely clear the wreckage around 3.30pm; but the traffic did not ease until about 6pm.

The owner of the burnt Toyota Corolla, Kehinde Ibrahim, told one of our correspondents that he was returning home from work when the incident happened.

He said, “I was coming from the office in Lagos, going towards Mowe in Ogun State. It was around 2am. When I got to Berger, the traffic started building up. At a point, it stopped moving. It eased a bit and I got to Kara. A truck coming from the rear brushed my vehicle by the side and rammed into the tanker, starting the fire.

“I couldn’t see anything as the fire was everywhere. I still don’t know how I escaped. I started running until I got to the OPIC area; I didn’t look back. It was after the fire subsided that I came back to see what had become of my car. It had been razed.”

A motorist, Desola Adigun, who lives in the Oshodi area of Lagos, said he was travelling to Osun State when he became trapped in the gridlock around 7am in Berger.

Adigun, who spoke with one of our correspondents at about 2pm said, “I wanted to see a business partner in Osogbo and we had already agreed to meet at a hotel by 12pm. I got to Berger at 7am and became stuck in the traffic. I have spent about six hours here.”

A commuter, Mr. Dauda Oladapo, told PUNCH Metro that he trekked from Berger to the OPIC bus stop before he took a motorcycle to his office in the Magboro area of Ogun State.

“I was at Berger around 10am and everywhere was blocked. Commercial motorcycle operators (okada riders) were charging N1,000 to Magboro, which is normally N100. I had to trek to OPIC and took an okada to the office. I paid N300,” he said.

A pepper seller, Mrs. Oyindamola Alabi, who was also  in the traffic, said, “The bus I boarded from Ketu became stuck in the traffic immediately we took off from the bus stop. We spent three hours before we got here (Otedola Bridge). I am very tired.”

The Chairman LASEMA, Mr. Adesina Tiamiyu, said preliminary investigation carried out by the agency indicated that the accident was caused by speeding.

He said, “We received a distress call at about 3.08am on Wednesday. The tanker driver was said to have abruptly applied brake at the Kara Bridge outward Lagos, resulting in multiple accident and fire outbreak.

“Investigation carried out at the scene of the incident revealed that the diesel-laden tanker caught fire after it rammed into a truck carrying brewery products. A combined team of emergency responders combated the inferno and successfully put it out. The road was cordoned off in order to prevent further loss lives. Six vehicles were burnt.

“The accident on the Otedola Bridge was also caused by speeding. Road users, especially articulated truck drivers, must avoid speeding and adhere to safety regulations to forestall avoidable disasters.”

The Zonal Commander of Lagos and Ogun states, FRSC, Assistant Corps Marshal Shehu Zaki, blamed the incident on indiscipline on the part of the drivers.

He said, “There was traffic at that time and instead of them to go on two traffic streams, they (motorists) were going on four, and as a result, the vehicles collided and that ignited the fire.”

The spokesperson for NEMA, South-West zone, Ibrahim Farinloye, said three persons were burnt to death, while one person survived with injuries.

“Another fire incident was averted on the Otedola Bridge when tanker carrying petrol fell and spilled its content. Firefighters were able to contain the situation,” he added.

Giving details of the vehicles involved in the accident, the Public Relations Officer, TRACE, Babatunde Akinbiyi, said, “A Foton truck with number plate, LSR 299 XM, a Man Diesel truck with number plate, AGL 820 XR, and a Daf truck with number plate,  FST 299 XR were burnt.”

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