By Charles Kumolu
FOR commuters plying the Lagos Badagry expressway, Thursday, December 1, 2010, is a day they will not forget in a hurry. Same applies to those who reside along the expressway, especially the Finiger-Alakija axis of the highway. Aside being trapped in the traffic for several hours, the sight of roasted human corpses, was one that will haunt them for years to come.
In fact, if it is possible, they will only be too glad to turn the hands of time and erase that sad episode from their memory. But that is not to be as they are still trying to come to terms with the shocking reality of that multiple fire incident that happened around Finiger Bus-stop that fateful day. Indeed days after, they are still raining curses on tanker drivers who they blame for being responsible for the avoidable death of several innocent people through their recklessness.
“These tanker drivers can’t continue making life miserable for us, Fashola should call them to order. See how human beings were roasted like Sala ram or Christmas goat,” Ganiyu, who has a mechanic shop close to the scene of the accident, told this reporter.
When VanguardMetro visited the scene, there were conflicting stories of how the accident occurred. While some maintained that the tanker driver was on a high speed, others claimed that he was not, but only lost control of the vehicle which consequently fell down, spilling its contents on the highway .
This conflicting report, a commercial motor cyclist, Mr. John Antai told VanguardMetro should not be a surprise given the time the incident occurred, adding that only commuters could tell the real story because there are no residential houses close to the scene of the incident.
“My brother, forget what all these people are saying. I can tell you that most of them were not here when this thing happened. I was lucky because I was coming from Okoko and I took one-way from Abule Ado because of that bad spot at Finiger that has stagnant water. It was the blast that I heard shortly before Finiger that made me to run for my life.
People were not much on the road then. I believe that man may have been on speed because these drivers are usually reckless. I am an Okada man and I know what I am talking about and this is my route,” Antai, who could not proceed with his journey because of the gridlock that followed, noted.
Continuing he said: “The blast I heard came with huge balls of fire; I was lucky that I was yet to get to the bus-stop”.
The resulting inferno, consumed over 20 people, who were burnt to death. For instance, a commercial bus which was burnt almost beyond recognition was said to be carrying about 22 passengers. VanguardMetro was told that none of the passengers in the bus, was able to escape.
It was gathered that the tanker was fully loaded with petroleum product suspected to be Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) or petrol.
The incident triggered a stampede with people running for dear lives. Not surprisingly, there was serious traffic jam on the highway and adjoining roads for several hours, especially after many motorists abandoned their vehicles while fleeing to safety .
With this development, most commuters heading to Mile 2 had no choice but to take the nearby Old Ojo road, thereby increasing traffic on this narrow road. Some vehicles heading towards Okoko had to divert at Agboju.
A commuter, Mr. Patrick Asuquo, who spoke to Vanguard Metro on his experience, said the traffic was irritating.
“I spent about three hours from Abule-Ado to Mile 2. I did not even know the extent of the accident. Everywhere was locked. I can’t even deceive myself by calling it a snail speed movement because there was no traffic from Agboju down to Mile 2. When we got there, I saw road safety men moving out burnt people,” he informed.