Fallen fuel tanker locks down Lagos-Ibadan Expressway
• Mowe, Ibafo, Arepo residents trek to Berger
Vehicular movement in and out of Lagos through the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was yesterday halted for hours, following a fallen petrol tanker, which was gutted by fire around 11.05p.m. on Tuesday night at Kara-Ibafo end of the highway, a few metres from the Mountain of Fire and Miracles (MFM) camp.
The situation was so chaotic, it forced the queue of the outbound vehicles from Lagos to stretch to OPIC Plaza end of the Long Bridge, close to Berger Bus Stop. Workers and businessmen living in Mowe, Ibafo, Asese, Arepo and adjoining areas were seen trekking long distances because there were no commercial buses to take them to Lagos.
An eyewitness said the fuel tanker, which was heading towards Ibadan skidded off the road due to the poor state of the expressway just a few metres opposite the Mountain Top University. Fuel gushed out and spilled on the road.
The witness, who did not want his name in print and was at the scene while returning from work, said some residents were scooping fuel from the fallen tanker, when the fire started and engulfed three vehicles.
According to him, the inferno forced many vehicles and residents to scamper for safety. The witness, who was full of gratitude to God for escaping alive with his vehicle, said three persons were allegedly consumed by fire.
Also, a resident, who gave his name simply as Azeez, said they noticed the fire around 11:15p.m. and rushed to the scene but could not do anything to rescue the situation because of the intensity of the inferno.
Azeez, who could not confirm the death of three persons as a result of the fire, however, said it is not unlikely that people died because some guys around actually went to scoop fuel when the tanker suddenly engulfed in fire.
Apart from the human casualties and the burnt vehicles, the incident also triggered what people have described as a hellish traffic situation for motorists and commuters, who could not get to their various destinations for hours.
A banker, Mrs. Juliet Anaedo, who left his house at 5a.m. yesterday, said she spent over five hours from Mowe to Arepo. According to her, it was a hectic congestion on both sides of the expressway because people leaving Lagos took one-way, which blocked those going to Lagos.
“It was a day I wish would not come back again because at a point I got tired of driving. It was a standstill situation for hours and everywhere was so choked I could not maneuver to park my car around and leave for work,” she said.
Another commuter, Adeola Mayowa, who trekked from Mowe to Wawa, near Arepo to board a bus that was turning back to Lagos, said he had waited for two hours without any sign of a bus before he decided to trek to see if he could see any one along the road, since he could not afford the N1,000 fare Okada riders were charging for a ride to Berger.
“I was surprised to see others trekking too. It was so hectic that even commercial motorcyclists did not find it funny. There was a lot of scramble for the few available ones even with the high fare,” he added.
Another motorist, Jide, said it took him five hours from Mowe to reach his destination at Arepo, a trip of about 15 minutes. “It is not funny and I have called my friends to cancel any trip to Lagos today (yesterday) if its not an emergency or extremely important.”
For Pastor Adam Imeh, who resides at Pakuro and does business at Mushin, he decided to turn back when he reached his bus stop because of the hectic traffic situation.
“I had to cancel all engagements and instructed my sales girl to take charge till Thursday. You can imagine spending over an hour just to access the express. I had no choice than to turn back home,” he told The Guardian.
When The Guardian arrived at the accident scene yesterday afternoon, officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) were busy directing traffic, while the fire had been put out.
An FRSC official, who pleaded for anonymity because he was authorized to speak with the media, said traffic had started moving slowly, while efforts were being made to evacuate the charred remains of the burnt tanker and other vehicles obstructing traffic.
He was, however, not able to confirm the number of casualties, stressing that he also heard some died, whose bodies had been removed from the scene before they got there.