By Bose Adelaja, with agency reports
THREE people were recovered dead while 23 others sustained injuries after a luxury bus with registration number Anambra GDD 386 YE plunged into a lagoon at Owode Elede in the Mile 12 area of Lagos State.
Spokesperson for the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA), Adebayo Kehinde who confirmed this, said the ill-fated bus was returning to Lagos from Abia State when the incident occurred at about 3:23 am.
According to him, “the agency received a distress call at about 3.23 am today (17/2/2017) via the emergency toll free number 767/112 concerning a luxury bus with registration number Anambra GDD 386 YE belonging to GUO Transport Service Co. Ltd. which was gathered to be enroute Maza Maza,Lagos, from Aba, Abia state.
“According to preliminary investigations conducted at the incident scene, the luxury bus was said to have skidded off its track while on top speed and plunged into the canal at Owode Elede, before Mile 12 on Ikorodu road. Kehinde said there were 59 passengers in the bus, and that those who died fell into the water, where their corpses were recovered.
“The bus with 59 passengers on board had 23 people injured and were treated on the spot by a joint team of LASEMA Paramedics and LASAMBUS, nine out of the treated victims were taken to the Lagos State Trauma Centre at the Toll Gate for further treatment, while two adult male and one female, which include the motor boy were recovered dead from the Canal,” he said.
He added that, “The three dead bodies, bus and their belongings were handed over to the men of the Nigeria Police, Owode Division. The agency recovered the vehicle with the aid of its heavy-duty crane and towed it off the road to ensure free flow of traffic.”
The cause of the incident could not be ascertained due to conflicting accounts by eye witnesses. Some attributed it to reckless driving while others said it was as a result of brake failure, but the General Manager Lagos State Emergency Management Agency LASEMA, Adesina Tiamiyu said the initial assessment revealed that the driver did not understand the nature of the road.
Some of the survivours were said to have struggled their way out of the bus before the arrival of emergency workers. Eye witnesses’ account said the Head Rescue and Emergency, Lagos State Emergency Management Authority LASTMA, Mr Ola Banjoko arrived the scene before his colleagues but he could not do much and had to wait for his colleagues. The search and rescue operation was jointly carried out by LASEMA, National Emergency Management Agency NEMA, Lagos State fire Service, Nigeria Police Force and other emergency responders.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that rescue operation was delayed as the responders had to contact the Electricity Distribution Company (DISCO) and Lagos State Electricity Board to switch off their distribution in the axis before the operation could commence. The incident caused a serious gridlock on the axis which stretched as far as Ajegunle, Itowolo and Majidun leaving road users stranded for hours.
Some passengers disembarked and started trekking long distance while some commercial drivers increased their fares by 100 per cent and drove against the traffic until normalcy was restored.
Both the LASEMA boss and NEMA South-West Information Officer Ibrahim Farinloye said further investigations will be conducted to ascertain the cause of the incident.
Adesina said the three bodies, the bus and their belongings were handed over to the Nigeria Police, Owode Division.
The LASEMA boss who confirmed there was no manifest in the bus said proper investigation will be conducted.
I thought the end had come—Survivor
Meanwhile, one of the passengers of the ill-fated bus simply identified as Nnamdi, said he felt the end had come. In his account, Nnamdi revealed that rescue operations did not commence until about two hours after the accident happened.
Speaking with online publication, TheCable at Ajegunle police station, Owode Onirin, Nnamdi said he boarded the bus at Benin in Edo state, and that the journey was smooth until the incident at Owode Elede. He explained that GUO Transport Service Co. LTD, owners of the bus, invited him to the station to write a statement on the accident.