June 3, 2015

Fuel tanker fire wreaks havoc in Lagos

Fuel tanker  fire wreaks havoc in Lagos

Scene of the explosion and the crowd. Photos: Joe Akintola, Photo Editor and Kehinde Gbadamosi.

By Bose Adelaja
LAGOS — No fewer than 14 people were injured, while property worth millions of naira were destroyed, yesterday, in Lagos as a tanker laden with 33,000 litres of petrol fell off Iyana-Ipaja bridge, resulting in an explosion which triggered a fire that raged for about 10 hours.

Affected property include a popular recording company, Remi Odus; electrical cables, three buildings, 44 shops, six tricycles and 22 vehicles, among others.

The incident happened around 1a.m. when the tanker which was moving from Agege end of the road lost control and fell off the bridge at Iyana-Ipaja, spilling its contents which spread to five adjoining streets on the axis.

Scene of the explosion and the crowd. Photos: Joe Akintola, Photo Editor and Kehinde Gbadamosi. More pictures on Page 52.

Scene of the explosion and the crowd. Photos: Joe Akintola, Photo Editor and Kehinde Gbadamosi.

There were conflicting accounts about the cause of the incident which some people attributed to fatigue on the part of the driver, while others said it was caused by brake failure.

State governor, Akinwumi Ambode, has since visited the scene of the inferno, pledging to look into the situation.

The affected areas included Adebayo, Jafojo, Oremeji, Abule Oki, Ipaja Road and Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.

Eye witnesses’ accounts said both the tanker driver and his conductor escaped unhurt, while 14 others sustained minor injuries and were treated and discharged by medics of the Lagos State Ambulance Services, LASAMBUS.

Area Boys on the prowl

While the inferno lasted, some street urchins, popularly known as area boys, took advantage of the situation to loot several shops, carting away valuables.

The arrival of law enforcement agents, however, restored order in the area.

One of the victims, Remi Odus, who spoke with Vanguard, lamented that the incident was sudden and could send the victims out of business.

“Many of us stocked our shops with goods before the close of work, unknown to us that tragedy will occur. Millions of Naira have been lost and the tanker driver is nowhere to be found,” he said.

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Other traders wept profusely at the scene, counting their losses.

A tricyclist (Okada rider), identified as Sina, said he got his tricycle on hire purchase and was yet to complete payment when the incident occurred.

“If I knew an inferno will occur, I would have parked my ‘keke’ (tricycle) in another place. I have not even paid up to 1/4 of the money and now I am left without hope,” he lamented.

Director, Lagos State Fire Services, Mr. Fadipe, and South West Information Officer, National Emergency Management Agency NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, who were also at the scene of the incident, said no life was lost, but Fadipe said 14 people sustained minor injuries and had been treated.

The traffic situation in the area was light as motorists stayed off the axis for some time until normalcy was restored.

In a related development, tragedy was averted at Magbon, Badagry, when another tanker laden with 33, 000 litres of petrol was said to have collided with a truck, spilling its content on the road. The incident which occurred overnight, was jointly handled by the state fire services and other stakeholders.

Ambode pledges support

Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, who visited the scene of the accident promised to compensate those who lost property and assist them get back to their normal businesses soonest.

The governor, who inspected the affected areas, was accompanied by the State Police Commissioner, Mr. Kayode Aderanti, and the permanent secretaries of the Ministries of Special Duties, Dr Aderemi Desalu, and Home Affairs, Mrs. Grace Oladimeji.

Ambode assured that as soon as he receives the report of the accident, his administration would within the next 48 hours do something positive to ensure that life returns to normal for victims.

He said: “As at 1a.m. this morning, a tanker loaded with 33,000 litres of petrol fell from Ipaja Bridge and spilled all its contents within the environs of Ipaja, covering almost five streets here. In the last four hours, all our emergency agencies have been effectively on ground and we have been able to manage and control consequences of what 33,000 litres of petrol would have done to this neighbourhood.

“We would ensure that all those who have lost properties and their shops are compensated; we would quickly find a way to help them get back to their normal business lives. I will receive the report of the fire incident in the next 48 hours and we would ensure that we do something positively to ensure that lives can return to normal.”

He added that at the last count, all the emergency agencies have reported that everything has been put under control, adding that two other similar incidents were recorded in Badagry and Ojo town overnight.

While thanking God that no life was lost, Ambode said the incidents have shown more reasons why tanker drivers must re-examine their operations because, according to him, the state government cannot afford to continue losing precious lives and properties to indiscipline on the part of tanker drivers.

“It would also mean that our tanker drivers have to start to do something about their operations. We cannot continue to record losses of lives and properties because our tanker drivers are not disciplined”, the governor said.

The Executive Secretary of Agbado/Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area, Famoyiran, commended the governor, the state Police Commissioner and the emergency agencies for their timely intervention which he said saved the community from serious damage.

Eyewitnesses’ account

Meanwhile, there were conflicting reports on the cause of the Iyana-Ipaja accident. One account revealed that the tanker with number plate KJA 238 XN, veered off the Iyana-Ipaja Bridge after experiencing brake failure. The report said the tanker exploded 40 minutes after the accident.

Another account had it that a haulage vehicle, whose driver was avoiding arrest by the Police, collided with a broken-down tanker on the Iyana-Ipaja Bridge and veered off the bridge.

Though at press time, it was uncertain what ignited the fire but Mr. Michael Adedayo, a resident, said that the fire was ignited at Bakare Jafojo Street where the content had spilled to.

He said: “I do not know when the accident occurred but the tanker driver and the night security officials raised alarm to alert the residents of the possible havoc. Few minutes after this, the explosion occurred from the Bakare Jafojo Street. When we came out, the entire community was enveloped in thick black smoke. Seeing this, none of us could wait to extinguish the fire. We had to wait for the state fire service officials,” he added.

Another resident, Miss Taiwo Odewale, lamented that the inferno would have been avoided if the fire service officials had arrived earlier.


Confirming the loss of property as well as the impact of the explosion, Head of Operations, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Mr. Femi Giwa, said that 14 persons sustained varying degrees of injuries but “were treated at the scene by the health officials attached to Lagos State Ambulance Service, LASAMBUS and discharged immediately.”