Scores of people yesterday escaped death by the whiskers though they sustained varing degrees of injuries after a petrol tanker exploded on the Lagos-Badagry expressway and left many vehicles burnt and in carcass.
Eyewitnesses present at the scene of the incident, which happened between the office of the Department of State Services (DSS) and Ojo military cantonment, said the tanker fell due to the failed portion of the busy highway before spilling its contents on the road.
The inferno, which consumed 10 vehicles, caused a heavy gridlock and made commuters coming towards Mile 2 take the congested alternative routes to their destination.
At the scene, security operatives, including men of the Federal Fire Service and Lagos State Emergency Services Management Agency (LASEMA), Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC), army and the police ensured the vicinity was condoned off while efforts were made to remove the debris caused by the inferno billowing from the burnt vehicles.
Some of the road users expressed the untold hardship they have experienced along the corridor due to the abandoned portions of the construction work being done by the Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC).
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of LASEMA, Kehinde Adebayo, blamed the incident on the “unsafe” practices of residents around the area.
According to Adebayo, the agency was notified of the accident that happened at Barracks bus stop inwards Iyana Oba, on the Lagos-Badagry expressway at about 9:48p.m. on Monday, prompting the immediate activation of their response team to the scene.
Speaking with The Guardian, Adebayo said: “Upon arrival at the scene, it was observed that the tanker with an unknown registration number and fully loaded with PMS of 33,000 litres and a white mini truck carrying electrical appliances collided side-by-side.
“Subsequently, the tanker’s rear compartment got punctured resulting to spilling of the contents of the tanker onto the road.
A combined team of LASEMA Response Team, the LASG Fire Service, Nigerian police and other responders were able to successfully curtail and stop further spillage of petrol while the articulated tanker and trucks were thereafter recovered.”
Explaining what caused the fire, the agency’s PRO said during the recovery process, the spilled content of the PMS which had spilled into the distant environment ignited and burst into flames, travelling back to the proximity of the scene resulting into three buses, one car and six trucks catching fire at once.
“The circumstances resulting to this fatal secondary incident could have been attributed to unsafe practices by inhabitants in the distant environs where the PMS spilled into. It is pertinent to note that no person was injured or died in the incident,” he said.
An eyewitness who spoke under conditions of anonymity confirmed that some residents were going to scoop fuel from the fallen tanker into kegs and bowls and this might have been responsible for the explosion.
“People rushed there to scoop fuel inside jerry can and even though some were afraid and telling them to stay away, they refused. Before we know what was happening, we saw fire but thankfully, everyone was able to escape.”
The Lagos state police imagemaker, Chike Oti, a Chief Superintendent of Police, who confirmed the incident, noted that the inferno occurred at about 5:00a.m.
According to him, “when the fire was eventually put out by men of the fire service, 10 vehicles were razed. No life was lost and no one was injured in the incident.