Properties worth millions of naira and houses were destroyed at dawn on Saturday when a fuel tanker loaded with 30,000 litres of fuel fell on the Ojuelegba bridge in Lagos.
Five cars and a storey building were burnt. However, no lives were lost.
According to an eye witness who live in Barrack area, Uche Ohene, the inferno started at about 2am when the tanker fell on the bridge and the fuel began to leak through to the nearby canal that leads to Shitta.
According to him, “We were all awake and watching and ready for any eventuality. We later saw a tongue of fire coming up from Shita area where a storey building, a car and some other houses were torched. The fire followed the fuel which went through the canal and to the bridge where the tanker was and there was a blast. Two mini buses and two Coaster buses were burnt beyond recognition.”
Ohene applauded the effort of fire service and other security agencies which came in early to intervene and stop the fire from spreading and further damage.
He said, “We are not happy about the attitude of some tanker drivers who are fully aware of the state of their tankers but are indifferent and negligent in correcting the problem thereby exposing other motorists and road users to danger.”
He urged tankers driver to be true to themselves and ensure that their vehicles are okay, “Lagosians will not continue to live under the mercy of tankers who are heartless and unconcerned about the safety of helpless Lagosians because of their selfish interest and we would encourage strict compliance on speed limit on their vehicles.”
He applauded the prompt rescue effort of the police, LASEMA, LAWMA and fire service whose effort helped to curtail the effect of the inferno.
Also, speaking at the scene, the Commissioner for Special Duties, Seye Oladejo said that the government will ensure strict compliance of the speed limit for tankers adding that a barricade will be built on bridges to restrict the tankers from using them.
He added that the bridge was not safe for tanker drivers and that the state could not afford any other crash which has been recurring.
Although there was speculation that the fallen truck was been towed, the special adviser to the Governor on Work, Olanrewaju Elegushi said that the truck was not been towed but was been driven when it fell.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report quoted Mr. Rasak Fadipe, Director, Lagos State Fire Service, as saying that the tanker was ascending the Ojuelegba bridge, but rolled back and spilled its content on the road.
He said that some of the spilled content went into a nearby canal in the area adding, ”When we came here at about 5.30a.m, we tried to dispense liquid foam into the manholes and canal to avoid fire outbreak. I had gone round to see the area affected by the spill. While going round, I met some men smoking Indian hemp along the canal.
“I warned them against it, that it may result to fire outbreak. They disregarded my advice. It was not long after talking with them that the fire broke out from there. If we had not dispensed chemical foams into the canal, the whole of Barracks area in Surulere would have been burnt down. So far, no casualties, three persons were taken to hospital as a result of shock, ”Fadipe said.
A resident of the area, Miss Wunmi Bolu, however, told NAN that the fire started at 4a.m, hours after the tanker fell at 2a.m.
“It was when they were trying to tow the tanker that the chain broke and fuel started spilling,” she said, explaining that it later led to the fire.
She said that some residents who were injured had been rushed to the Randle Hospital in Surulere for treatment.
Another resident of the area, who identified himself as Mr. Matore, told NAN that his wife woke him up at about 2:30 am before the fire broke at 4am and had to relocate his children.
“My wife woke me up at about 2:30a.m. and said she could smell fuel, so I came out and there were many of us outside trying to know what was going on.
“When we thought everything was fine, we went back to sleep only for my wife to wake me up again at 4a.m that she could hear people shouting fire. I quickly got up and took my children to my sister’s place on the Island.”
At the scene, fire fighters were present with four fire trucks, as the tanker, was later being taken off the bridge. According to NAN the fire damaged properties located on Allen, Akintan, Benson, Ajoke Dosumu streets within the vicinity as a result of the spilling of the fuel.
At one of the affected buildings, three members of a family were taken to Randle General Hospital, Surulere, due to shock.
A member of the family and a graduate of Microbiology, Mr. Olashina Jinadu, said his parents and one of his brothers were in the hospital due to shock.
”We were sleeping at about 5am when we heard a loud bang and people started shouting fire, fire. Everyone rushed down from upstairs. We could not salvage any property. The fire from the canal was blown against our building by the wind,” Jinadu said.
Commercial activities, including transportation, were grounded for hours while firemen were trying to contain the spill and the fire.
The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Fatai Owoseni, said that no arrest was made and no death was recorded. He led a team of policemen from Area C to ensure that area boys did not loot homes.
A lawmaker at the Lagos State House of Assembly (Surulere Constituency 1) Mr. Desmond Elliot, who was at the scene, lamented the situation.
“The fire was serious to the extent that many patients on admission had to be evacuated from Igbaja Health Centre close to the scene to save their lives. I was sad that we lost a mother who lived at 53, Akintan St. as a result of shock. We have been talking about this in the Assembly, but I believe more enforcement needs to take place. This is a disaster. We will probably ask for serious measures on the floor of the house,” Eliot said.
A resident of Makinde Street, Ojuelegba, Mr. Kayode Kadiri, urged government to seek lasting solutions to stop the perennial accidents of articulated vehicles along Ojuelegba area of the state.
In September, a container-laden truck fell off the Ojuelegba bridge, destroying cars and killing three persons.
Source: The Nation Nigeria