It was a black Sunday in Lagos and Ondo yesterday as no fewer than twenty people lost their lives in separate accidents that occurred in the two South-West States.
While a truck conveying a 20ft container lost control and landed on a commercial bus and killing nine people at Oluejegba in Lagos, 11 persons were reportedly burnt beyond recognition in an auto crash that occurred at Soka Bridge in Ore, Odigbo council area of Ondo state on Sunday.
The fully loaded bus marked KTU 921 YD was said to be waiting to pick up passengers when the incident happened at Ojuelegba Bridge in Surulere with the passengers trapped.
Daily Trust recalls that there were similar accidents in September 2015; April 2, 2022, and April 19.
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Our correspondent reports that traffic in and around Ojuelegba was shut down yesterday as emergency responders struggled to recover the container and the bus.
Eyewitnesses told Daily Trust that the truck was trying to climb the Ojuelegba Bridge when it suddenly lost control while its container detached and landed on the bus.
A source said the truck driver was trying to prevent the bus from overtaking him. “You can see the bus was so close to the pavement and it was pinned down by the container after falling off from the truck”, the source said.
Many residents were said to be helpless when the incident happened before the arrival of the emergency responders, especially LASEMA which immediately deployed its heavy-duty equipment.
“Some of them were still gasping for breath when the accident happened. Though people had called the LASEMA and other agencies, most of the trapped victims died before they arrived as the container pinned them to the ground. Only one woman survived it,” said an eyewitness.
Another eyewitness, who simply identified himself as Adekola said the conductor escaped because he was trying to settle the Agberos (Motor Park touts).
“The driver stopped on the bridge when he realised his conductor was held down by the Agberos. This is how containers fall anyhow around here. It is very tiring. We just wish there would be an end to this loss of life,” he said.
Emergency officers including the State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), State Fire Service, Federal Fire Service, and the Police were at the scene to jointly recover the dead.
LASEMA Permanent Secretary, Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu said the agency’s heavy-duty equipment was deployed to remove the container on top of the bus while the head of the bus was removed to aid recovery of the trapped passengers.
“After suspending the container load with the aid of the agency’s forklift and cutting off the top of the bus with light rescue equipment, a single adult woman was extricated alive and taken to the trauma centre,” he said, adding that a total of nine fatalities were recovered comprising 4 adult males, 3 adult females, a girl child, and a boy child.
As of the time of filing this report, emergency responders were able to remove the charred bus while the remains of the victims were deposited at the mortuary.
The Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Lagos, Olusegun Ogunbemide said the rescue had been concluded, adding that an investigation had commenced determining the immediate and remote cause of the crash.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, described the incident as unfortunate and sad, saying he was pained that innocent people lost their lives in such a manner.
In a statement by his media aide, Lanre Lasisi on Sunday, the Speaker, however, lauded the quick efforts of the officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), FRSC, police, and others in evacuating the victims and rescuing one person.
While calling for immediate action and an investigation into the incident, Gbajabiamila said: “This is not the first time such an incident is happening in Lagos. I call for immediate temporary installation of barriers as in the case of Oba Akran – computer village, Ikeja to prevent trailers from using the bridge to avert future occurrences. It is unacceptable for people to die in such a way at the same spot multiple times.”
Meanwhile, the Corps Marshal of, the Federal Road Safety Corps, Dauda Ali Biu has recommended the construction of barricades against articulated vehicles (Tankers, Trucks, Trailers, and other heavy-duty vehicles) on Ojuelegba Bridge as a permanent solution to the reoccurring crashes.
Reacting to the incident that occurred on Ojuelegba Bridge, Lagos State, and another crash that claimed 11 lives at Soka Bridge on Lagos-Benin Highway, he cautioned commuters against route violation as well as driving against prescribed legal speed limits on all roads.
He said according to the FRSC operatives on the ground, the container mounted on the Mack Truck at Ojuelegba fell off the truck while landing on the Suzuki minibus filled up with passengers which obviously led to the death of 9 of the passengers.
He said the Corps Marshal who frowned at the incident underscored the importance of barricading the bridge against articulated vehicles citing some of the dangers that come with their continued use of the bridge as he calls for efforts to be made towards expanding the connecting roads under the bridge to accommodate all articulated vehicles.
From Abdullateef Aliyu, (Lagos), Itodo Daniel Sule & Maureen Onochie (Abuja)