By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State government, on Wednesday, presented a cheque of N2.5 million to eight families of those that died in Sunday, March 15 pipeline explosion at Abule Ado-Soba, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of the state.
According to record, at least 23 people lost their lives, while over 500 residents were affected and displaced in the devastating incident.
Recall that in the wake of the explosion, Governor Babajide Sanwo- Olu, during an on-the-spot assessment, while commiserating with victims, promised to pay compensation to affected victims in order to cushion the effect of the disaster.
He, therefore, set-up a N2 billion relief fund into which the state contributed N250 million, while private organisations, religious bodies also contributed unspecified amount.
A relief fund committee was also set up, headed by the state Deputy Governor, Dr. Femi Hamzat, to manage the fund.
Some of the families who received the cheques by proxy include Rev. Herietta Aloka, Mrs late Funke Edet, late Bidemi Johnson, late Mr. Aliu Ali, Miss Irene Oku
Presenting the cheques to representatives of the families at his office’s Conference Room, Alausa, Ikeja, Hamza explained that the gesture was in fulfillment of Sanwo-Olu’s commitment to assist the families in taking care of certain expenses.
He said the presentation was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected every sector of daily life.
The deputy governor, in his short address, said: “In addition to this gesture, the state government is settling the hospital bills of the victims from the explosion, while 100 displaced families are being accommodated and fully taken care of at the state Emergency Relief Camp, Igando, old Alimosho area of the state.
“The financial assistance being offered to the 23 victims who lost their lives is only an effort to mitigate the impact of the tragedy on members of their families.
“I assure you that we feel and share in your pains. Therefore you will continue to be in our prayers as no life can be equated to material compensation.
“I, therefore, use this opportunity to urge you at this challenging pandemic time to support government initiatives and strategies to combat the COVID-19 virus.
“Please obey the lockdown order for the safety of all, maintain personal hygiene, social distancing and report to the nearest health facility if you feel unwell. Through your cooperation and keeping safe, we can overcome.”
“On behalf of Mr. Governor and people of Lagos State, accept our condolences and be assured that we are doing all we can to ensure that life in Ado-Soba community returns to normal.”
Also speaking, Commissioner for Special Duties, Engr. Tayo Bamgbose-Martins, urged the receiving next of kin to use the fund judiciously and prayed to God to grant the repose eternal rest.
Director-General of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the disbursement was sequel to approval by Executive Council of Mr. Governor’s administration, saying that the disbursement of the fund will be done in batches.
Responding on behalf of the families, Monsieur Jero Oduntan, Director of Education, Catholic Arc-Diocese Lagos, who received the cheques, commended the state government for the gesture.
He said: “Nobody prays for calamity to happen, but in life things happen; we can not explain but God.
“Therefore, on behalf of those who died, their families and those still nursing the loss, we thank the state government. We pray God to heal us of this COVID-19 pandemic, as well.”