RECENT Happenings in Lagos State have painstakingly made everyone to keep asking this question, “Who and where is next?”” It has now become an issue of One week one trouble. Disaster has now become a common trait to Lagosians who now walk the streets with utmost caution but with fear of the unknown. For residents of Ajegunle Community, it is the fear of the unknown.
Last week, as I was walking close to the bridge at Ojuelegba, I couldn’t help but look up at the bridge that has claimed dozens of lives in so short a time. I quickly ran to the walkway but still had my eyes fixated at the bridge; obviously on the move to run peradventure another container decides to fall off the bridge, again.
It would be recalled that around 9:00pm on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, a truck laden with piles of plywood fell off a bridge at Ojuelegba, Lagos, and landed on commercial buses better known as Danfo. Three people lost their lives in the accident while others sustained injuries.
As Lagosians were mourning that loss, little did we know that another disaster was waiting to happen. And yes, it did happen. Just last week, Thursday, June 28, 2018, scores of vehicles were burnt with lives lost.
The Otedola Bridge at Ojodu Berger turned into a grave yard as a tanker laden with PMS exploded and went into flames. Yes, lives were lost and vehicles were burnt. However, it will be so stupid of me if I don’t credit the Lagos State Emergency team and the fire service for their prompt action in combating the inferno, but, all this would have been averted if the right thing had been done at the right time.
For the family of Sulaiman, life has not been the same since the tragic incident that claimed the life of Abubakar on the morning of Wednesday, September 2, 2015. The day, which started on a very good note for the businessman who operated a bureau de change, ended on a very sad note.
His mangled body and that of his friends, Kamilu and Umar, were recovered from under the crushing weight of a fully-loaded 40-foot container-laden truck that skidded off the bridge and landed on their black Toyota sports utility vehicle.
Also badly damaged by the container were a black Toyota Corolla and a white Nissan Sunny saloon car trapped in the gridlock when the accident occurred. The incident also caused a stampede, as motorists plying the busy route abandoned their vehicles and fled for their lives.
According to Abubakar’s wife of 15 years, Zainab, the tragedy was too much for her to bear and her five children would forever miss the loving presence of their father.
Also in December 2015, at least four houses and five vehicles were razed when a fuel tanker fell off the Ojuelegba Bridge, spilling its content and bursting into flames. The tanker, which belonged to Forte Oil, was reportedly ascending the bridge in the early hours of the morning when it lost control.
Efforts to prevent the spillage from causing an inferno proved abortive, as the fire ferociously destroyed everything in its path.
I just don’t want to start apportioning blames at this point, but, the truth just had to be said.
These trucks plying our highways have indeed turned into a menace in our today’s Lagos. With reckless abandon, they skid off the roads as a result of brake failure, thereby carelessly killing innocent motorists and pedestrians. They allow their contents to fall off bridges so as to save their trucks and care next to nothing about the disaster waiting to happen; yet the government of Lagos State had not deemed it fit to neither erect strong barricade on the bridges nor restricted their movements to night only as done by their predecessor.
Now, the Otedola incident happened on a highway, thank God! Why am I thanking God? Am surprised you can even ask me such a question at this point. True, lives were lost and properties worth millions or billions whichever way you chose to quantify them were destroyed.
Now, imagine if such an incident had happened in an area like Ajegunle, what do you think would have happened? That is like wiping out the whole of that community in a single sweep.
The peculiarity of Ajegunle as a community is one that if there is any fire outbreak of such magnitude, (prompt response or not) a whole lot of lives and properties would be destroyed in couple of minutes. The face me I face you pattern of buildings would see the fire spreading so fast.
The conflagration would be so massive to the extent that the Odi massacre during Obasanjo’s tenure as president would be child’s play. Let’s also not forget that Ajegunle is bound by tank farms by the Trinity axis. Are you now pondering what I’m pondering?
On Wednesday last week, one heavy duty truck lost balance as a result of the failed portion of the Mba-Oregie road. The truck conveying an iron casted metal fell next to another heavy-laden container, thus blocking off that road completely.
Vehicles and motor bikes had to resort to the use of Awodi-Ora Estate as route, yet they tell us the Estate does not have a commercial value and as such they cannot construct their road. God dey.
During the evacuation process the following day, it took two forklifts to lift the content unto another truck. During the process, the container was torn to shreds as a result of the weight of the iron it carried inside. Let’s imagine that one of the trucks had PMS; what do you think would have happened? Or that weight fell on a danfo bus with passengers inside.
It is no gainsaying that the rate at which these trucks claim lives on the streets of Ajegunle is alarming. We have seen cases of pregnant women, children and the elderly crushed to death by trailers. This is enough to even cause youth restiveness, yet the people kept calm because of the belief that the Apapa-Wharf Road is undergoing reconstruction and the only available route is theirs and they wouldn’t want another ethnic clash.
It might interest you to know that in Apapa local government, they barred the trailers from plying their streets, except the major designated roads.
Let me also use this medium to remind the amiable governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode that the Mba-Oregie Road leading to Mobil Road that is serving as route for the trucks he sent our path is in terrible shape. When it rains, it is more like a cluster of swimming pools constructed on the road.
Let me also remind him that the trucks are also destroying the road constructed for us by his predecessor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola. That particular road was constructed with the mindset of creating easy passage from Trinity, through Wilmer to the General Hospital, Baby Ward and the Magistrate Court also constructed by Fashola.
I don’t want to believe the saying that Gov. Ambode is trying to destroy the legacies of Fashola but this, to my people is serving as a pointer to that because, the question on the lips of the Ajegunle people is, “What has Gov. Ambode done for us?”
Yes, the promise of Maracanã has been there for God knows when. Yes you have promised to build us the stadium as contained in the budget, but oga mi, nor be dat one dey do us.
The urgent need to do something about the menace caused by these trucks on a daily basis is paramount in the hearts of the residents of this densely populated community. They have completely blocked our roads, causing traffic gridlock on a daily basis. Movement from one point to the other that would easily take 10 minutes now takes over 2 hours and you expect us to be happy?
Now, imagine that a pregnant woman in labour or an accident victim is being rushed to the General hospital. Or better still as it has now become a norm, a PMS-laden container falls off the truck, spills its content as witnessed at Otedola Bridge…hmmm. That is gobecious oh.
I never knew I was going to add this to this write up, but speaking of fire in Ajegunle community which has also become a regular occurrence is not something to write home about.
Few weeks ago, we lost Sunny and his wife; both were burnt in the house. The fire service did not get to that location on time. Another incident involving three buildings, one a church and the other a hotel also occurred with a man losing his entire building which he used his pension money to build.
This community’s clamour for a fire station has been blown out of proportion, yet the State government has been silent on it.
2019 is around the corner, before people will start seeing this as marginalization, you need to act fast because the affected areas are mostly those that the PDP defeated the APC in the 2015 elections.
The people of Ajegunle are ready to make a statement, and they are ready to make that statement with their PVC.