BY UJU MBANUSI
LAGOS — A ROAD traffic accident in which two school pupils were killed, yesterday, on the Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos, led to a protest that generated an unprecedented gridlock on the usually busy highway.
For several hours, protesters blocked the entire expressway, making passage in both directions, impossible.
The accident occurred directly opposite the IkotaPrimary School premises, a public school, as the children crossed the expressway.
An eye witness told Vanguard that the pupils, numbering five, who came from the Mega Chicken side of the road, had crossed the first part of the expressway and were on the pavement in the middle of the road when a tanker from the Ajah end, knocked off a Spots Utility Van, SUV, that stopped for the children to cross over.
The tanker, it was gathered, then hit the children on the pavement, killing two of them on the spot while the other three sustained serious injuries and are currently receiving treatment at a nearby clinic. The tanker driver reportedly took to his heels after the accident.
It was gathered that things went awry when some members of the Ikota Youth Association took advantage of the incident to protest against what they termed government’s insensitivity to their plea to provide the area with a pedestrian bridge. It was aggravated as policemen drafted to the scene fired tear-gas and gun shots into the air.
Olugbenga Adesanmi, a spokesperson of the association lamented LagosState government’s unresponsiveness to their plea. He declared a seven-day ultimatum for the state to do something about the situation, otherwise they would react violently.
He said: “Some of the youths who witnessed the accident, based on the fact that we have been canvassing a pedestrian bridge at this spot, came out to protest the killing.
“Instead of the police who earlier arrived the scene to find an acceptable way of managing the situation, they fired sporadically at passers-by and protesters, causing more casualties.
“Four people were injured including a woman who had a baby on her back. It is speculated that the child on her back died as a result of gun shot.
“If we should count the number accidents that happen on this spot from January till date, it will be over 200. We are giving them seven days to do something about this situation, otherwise, they will have to kill all of us.”
However, the Ajuwa Divisional Police Officer, Issah Lawal, who was present at the scene with his men said there was a fatal accident which involved three school children around 8 a.m.
According to him, “tthree school children were involved in the accident, two of them died on the spot while the third child is receiving treatment at a nearby hospital.
“The allegation that men of the Police Force shot, killed and injured some protesters and passers-by is not to my knowledge. Like I said, my men have been here.
“We were contacted immediately the accident occurred and we responded swiftly. We got here in 10 minutes.”
Meantime, a traffic gridlock stretching over 10 kilometres built up on the road, on the way to Epe, trapping thousands of motorists going to work. A similar gridlock was also on the other side.
Reports also said the protesters resisted attempts by the police to evacuate the bodies of the victims pupils and the vehicles involved in the accident.