Metro  

Two feared dead, many injured as spilled fuel ignites fire

Oke-Afa pothole of Ejigbo, Lagos State

Two persons were yesterday feared dead in yesterday’s fire outbreak caused by a spillage from a petroleum tanker that fell at Oke-Afa area of Ejigbo, Lagos State. The tanker, which was loaded with petroleum product, fell on Monday afternoon causing gridlock in and out of the area.

The tanker was heading towards Isolo, when it fell on reaching a bad spot on the Oke-Afa road before the Pako roundabout, spilling its content into the drainage and on the road.

Since the incident occurred, effort was not made to remove the affected truck, which hampered free-flow of traffic that trapped passengers for hours. As at 2:00a.m., motorists were still on the road.

Witnesses said the gridlock left motorists stranded in Ikotun, Ejigbo, Jakande Estate, Bucknor, Isheri and Ijegun, among others, finding it difficult to move out of Oke-Afa. In a bid to ease the traffic, commercial bus drivers were alleged to have removed the red tape barricading the spot.

The witnesses alleged that in a bid to meander through the only bridge leading out of Ejigbo to Isolo, a spark occurred, prompting vehicles to hurriedly make a detour.
 
Taiwo Ishiru, a mechanic at the refuse dump in the area, said unfortunately for one of the bus drivers, he reversed right into a pool of the spilled petroleum that ignited fire. He said that some passengers sustained major degrees of burns in their bid to scamper out of the bus.

“Unfortunately, a pregnant woman and the bus driver were burnt in the process,” he added.

A man, Chidi Nwabundu, blamed the cause of the tragedy on failure and inefficiency of government’s emergency agencies. He said: “Perhaps this incident would have been averted had some of the passengers not urge our driver to take the route.

The bus was coming from Ikotun but I boarded it from NNPC bus-stop. There was an argument between the passengers on whether or not the driver should take the barricaded road. It degenerated into a heated argument as some passengers were against it, while others urged him on because they claimed they were already late for work.

“Before we knew it, other vehicles in front started reversing in a hurry, with some of the passengers jumping out and shouting fire. Our driver also made an attempt to leave the place, but to our shock, our bus ignited a fire. I jumped out and hit my knee on the ground. I hurriedly stood up and continued running. I can’t tell how I managed to run to a safe place. It was by the grace of God. By the time I got to a safe place and looked back, the whole vehicle had been engulfed by fire.”

Some residents and commuters blamed government officials for the cause of the tragedy. One of them, Taiwo Ogunsesan, said: “What did emergency agencies do when the incident happened? I learnt fire service officials poured chemicals to douse the effect of the petrol. If they did, why did it ignite fire? Should they wait until lives perish before doing what is supposed to be done? They should be held responsible for the death of the two persons.”

At least, four others of the 14 passengers in the bus were severely injured while four tricycles also had accident in the same spot leaving the commuters badly injured. Eyewitnesses hinted that the four occupants of the bus were rushed to the Isolo General Hospital for treatment.

When The Guardian visited, it was observed that chemicals had already applied to the petroleum that was spilled to avert further havoc. It was gathered that the bus’s exhaust pipe absorbed spilled petrol from the potholes. The witnesses stated that as the bus was ascending the bridge, the exhaust pipe scratched the bridge pavement and ignited fire.

One of the victims that was treated at Isolo General Hospital, Mr. Chibueze Okafor, disclosed that the bus was going to Ikeja from Igando when the mishap occurred.

Okafor said he jumped out through the window when the bus caught fire. He had a cut on the head, which had been stitched at the hospital.

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