It was a black Sunday penultimate week for traders at the Bode Market at the Molete area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, when a truck loaded with Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) crushed 10 people to death and injured many. Daily Trust reports.
Bode market, located along the Gate-Mullet road, precisely at Bode, on a large expanse of land, housing over 300,000 stalls and shops, is the magnificent, century-old Ibadan International Herbal Market.
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The market started as a family business, but now stocks all kinds of herbs, roots and tree parts that cure different ailments, including those orthodox medicine has been unable to take care of.
The market has grown from few shops and roadside sheds and few customers to receiving visitors from different countries, including Togo, Benin, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroun, Brazil and London.
Human traffic to the market on a daily basis is enormous as people come from different parts of the world. Apart from people who transact businesses on a daily basis, more people visit the market every nine days to buy and sell herbs, while others come to inquire about medicine for one disease or another.
Daily Trust reports that aside lives that were lost during the accident, many people were injured, while a shopping complex was partially damaged.
It was learnt that many of those affected were traders who displayed their goods by the roadside and tricycle operators plying the Gate-Beere-New-Garage road.
Although the police public relations officer in the state, Adewale Osifeso and the sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Oyo, Mrs Uche Winifred Chukwura, gave conflicting figures of casualties, eyewitnesses confirmed that 10 people died in the accident.
Eyewitnesses told Daily Trust that the gas tanker lost control at Idi-Arere, a community close to the market, which made it difficult for the driver to control the vehicle, and it eventually crashed into the market.
The accident, according to some traders, occurred around 8am on Sunday morning when Christians were going to worship places. It caused a heavy gridlock as people ran in different directions for safety.
The general manager of the Oyo State Roads Transport Maintenance Agency (OYRTMA), Mr Adeoye Ayoade, said he was not at the scene when the accident occurred, but he saw a tricycle with four passengers that were crushed.
Lateef Salaudeen, who said he narrowly escaped being crushed by the truck, added that he counted seven people crushed to death by the truck, aside the four people on a tricycle.
Also speaking with reporters, a 70-year-old fruit seller, Mrs Adekemi Adegoke Alawuje said, “I was displaying my wares after offloading it from a vehicle when I heard a loud sound. I later saw a tricycle with four passengers that had been crushed by the trailer. I called on people around to rescue the passengers and the driver.
“Later, I heard another deafening bang, and when I got there, I saw four corpses. I saw another corpse of a small child inside the gutter.”
Mrs Adegoke noted that the market was recently reopened after some sacrifices were made. “Ifa priests, after consulting their gods, told us to offer sacrifice to ward off bad omen from the market. They said we should not open for business for seven days. We just opened today after observing a seven-day break,” she said.”
Speaking with Daily Trust, the elder brother to one of the victims of the accident, Adegoke Fajaye, said his sister, Barakat Adediran, a Mass Communication student of The Polytechnic, Ibadan, was preparing to start her Higher National Diploma (HND) when she was killed along with the motorcyclist that picked her.
Fajaye, who relocated to the family house to console his grieving mother, told our correspondent that his sister, who recently graduated from a fashion school, looked forward to becoming a successful journalist.
According to him, his sister saw the truck and ran, but got electrocuted by a cable which dropped immediately the tanker hit the electric pole before veering inside the market. He said she was caught in the web of the cable and crushed immediately by the tanker.
He said, “She just got to the market and was paying the okada rider when death caught up with her.”
Her brother said the family retrieved the corpse and buried her immediately because they were Muslims and did not want their sorrow to linger unnecessarily.
Asked if the owner of the tanker, with the inscription, Gas Land, had reached out to the family, he answered in the negative.
“We have left everything to God. We believe he counted us to be among the families affected by the tragedy, but we cannot query God,” he added.
On her part, the mother of the deceased, Alhaja Fausat Adediran, who was physically down, said traditional worshippers at Bode market had warned traders not to open market for seven days because they foresaw a strange happening in the market.
She said, “Like I told some of your people who came to interview me, Barakat knew she was going to die, and that was why she told a young child who usually came to visit her that she would travel.”
“On that fateful Sunday morning, she had no intention to travel to anywhere, except this journey of no return. She was a pleasant and hard working girl.
“Traditional worshippers at Bode market told us that we should not open for seven days because they foresaw a strange happening and I complied. Barakat told me that she would go to the market to help me on that day and I should stay at home.
I was told she got to the market and was paying the motorcyclist who took her there when the truck hit her and the motorcyclist. Both of them died,” the grieving mother said.
One of the traders who put to bed few days to the incident, Mrs Ogunlani Tunrayo, said many of them lost millions of naira to the accident, urging the state government to come to their rescue.
“I just put to bed a week before the incident. I just came around to see the level of damage done to us. This is too much to bear. We are yet to hear from the Gas Land company, the owner of the truck that wreaked the havoc. I thank God that I was not in the market when the incident occurred; maybe I would have been a victim,” she said.
Another trader, Mr Mojere Adeniyi, who said he narrowly escaped being crushed, asked the owner of the truck to come to their rescue.
“Now that the truck has done monumental damages here, there is a need for the company to come to our rescue. The company cannot feign ignorance of the happenings in the market. We lost about 10 people. That of Barakat is painful and traumatising for the family.
“There is a woman who lost two of her children. But we pray that God should forgive their errors and give their families the fortitude to bear the lost,” he said.
Alhaja Kikelomo Afolabi told our correspondent that she did not open her shop for the period of time specified, but said some elderly ones violated the instruction.
“During the annual celebration of those seeking herbs, there was an instruction that the market should be closed for seven days. But to our surprise, some elders said they would not comply with the directive. The market leaders discovered that since some were opposing the instruction, the best thing to do was to make compliance optional and some re-opened their shops while some of us obeyed the instruction,” Afolabi said.
Also speaking, a family head, Mogaji Wale Oladoja, asked the government to ban selling by the roadside.
“When Governor Makinde asked them to stop selling by the road, our people said he was doing too much, but now they have seen it for themselves. I want the government to enforce the law prohibiting display of goods by the roadside.
“I also want the government to begin to run brain test for truck drivers. When they knew that the truck has a fault, why did they allow it to load gas? We must learn how to do the right things in Nigeria,” he said.
As one of the measures to ensure that such developments are averted, the state government said it would start implementing the restriction of trucks and long vehicles to night operations on some routes – from 9pm to 6am.
The special adviser to the governor on project and infrastructure, Seyi Adeleye, an engineer, said this was necessary to manage smooth commuting and decongest traffic in the state.
Speaking earlier, the chairman, Oyo State Road Traffic Management Authority, Mogaji Akin Fagbemi, said they would also see to the introduction of a post-crash care policy that would enhance first aid, while also ensuring quick access to health facilities in case of fatalities.