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Providing succour for victims of Ijegun pipeline explosion

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[FILE] Smoke billows by charred vehicles from an oil pipeline fire that left two people dead and over 30 vehicles burnt at Ijegun in Lagos, on July 4, 2019. – Two people were killed and over 30 vehicles burnt on July 4 after thieves breached a fuel pipeline in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, causing an explosion, emergency services said. The incident, which happened in the early hours in the Ijegun area, is the latest in a long string of such accidents. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)


The Lagos State Government said it has so far expended over N10 million in the care of victims of the Ijegun pipeline explosion, adding that the survivors of the inferno are receiving adequate and quality care at designated government facilities, free of charge.

The Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Health, Dr. Titilayo Goncalves who disclosed this today during a visit to the victims of the incident at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) noted that the State Government has not abandoned the victims as being speculated but is providing the best care possible to ensure their full recovery.

“Victims of the inferno are being provided with adequate and quality care in our facilities free of charge in line with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s directive and they are being closely monitored and cared for by our specialists to ensure their full recovery and rehabilitation”, Goncalves said.

She explained that out of the 22 victims rescued by the Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS), nine were taken to LASUTH, 12 were taken to Trauma and Burns Unit, Gbagada General Hospital while one is being managed at Alimosho General Hospital.

Goncalves noted that 10 out of the patients receiving care at LASUTH and Gbagada General Hospital died due to severe and high degrees of burns suffered from the inferno adding that three died at LASUTH while seven died at Gbagada General Hospital. She said: “Unfortunately, due to the high degree of burns suffered by these victims which is almost at 100 percent, we lost 10 of them but we are doing everything possible to ensure that no other life is lost and we will continue to do all in our might to provide intensive care for the remaining and from reports received they are responding to treatment.”

“Treatment of victims with a high percentage of burns requires intensive care and management, which should follow some treatment protocol and this is why I am appealing to families of the victims to be calm and cooperate with our health workers as they care for their loved ones.”

The Chief Medical Director, LASUTH, Dr. Adetokunbo Fabamwo, said that the teaching hospital and its annex, Trauma and Burns Unit, Gbagada General Hospital had since received the patients, and are providing the necessary care and support needed to aid their quick recovery.

“LASUTH alone has expended about six million naira so far to cover laboratory investigations, X-rays, consumables and medications, in fact, one of the patients was treated with silver patches costing 350,000 thousand naira,” Fabamwo said. He added that specialists in burns and trauma to ensure that the victims are rehabilitated in line with treatment protocol for the burns are conducting daily on-the-spot assessments.

“I want to assure families of the victims that their loved ones will receive the best care possible and we will ensure availability of medical and other supplies throughout the period of their management”, the Chief Medical Director said. He advised families of victims not to liaise with any non-hospital staff and report any case of extortion or ill-treatment by any person to his office or better still call him on 08037787788 or the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health on 08023049478. He stressed that the treatment of the victims is free.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Governor had last Wednesday visited victims of the recent Ijegun pipeline fire incident who are receiving treatment at the Trauma and Burns Unit of the Gbagada General Hospital. The Governor, in the company of his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, sympathized with families of the victims and also appraised the recuperation of the survivors.

The Governor took time to go round the three wards where some of the victims were receiving treatment for various degrees of injuries.
Among the survivors are three children and four adults. While describing the incident as unfortunate, Governor Sanwo-Olu bemoaned criminal activities around oil pipeline right of ways in the state, stressing that the State Government would cooperate with the Federal Government to strengthen security patrol of the vulnerable areas to protect the lives of residents. He said: “We are here to check on the survivors, who are receiving treatment and assess their healing process. Although we had a few fatalities, there are many survivors with different degrees of burn. They are responding well to treatment. I spoke with them and assured that the government will do everything to ensure they get well.

“This kind of unfortunate incident must be a lesson for all of us. We cannot continue to witness loss of lives to this kind of preventable crimes. Those who are bent on making illegal wealth at the expense of other people’s lives should have a rethink.” Sanwo-Olu warned those engaging in pipeline vandalism to desist, saying full wrath of the law would be brought against economic saboteurs.

The Governor cleared the air on why he did not visit the scene of the fire incident. He said: The issue of pipeline vandalism is a criminal issue being dealt with by the Federal Government. For us in the state, my deputy and I did not visit the site of the incident, because we didn’t want to make a camera show at the scene. This is not because we don’t have empathy or we are not doing what is required of us; it is a crime scene and security operatives are at the site for investigation. We don’t want to disrupt that process.”
Sanwo-Olu said the government had resolved to foot the bills of the survivors who are receiving treatment at the state’s medical facilities in Ikeja and Gbagada.

The Governor also used the opportunity to inspect the abandoned cardiac and renal Centre located inside the Gbagada General Hospital to inspect the state of the health facility. Also, Sanwo-Olu has said the State Government is working with the security agencies to bring perpetrators of the Ijegun pipeline fire to justice.

No fewer than 10 people died in the fire penultimate Thursday, which resulted from activities of criminals vandalizing oil pipelines in the community. Sanwo-Olu spoke while receiving members of the ad-hoc committee set up by the Senate to investigate the root cause of the inferno.

The seven-member committee, led by Senator Ibrahim Gobir, met with the Governor in Alausa on Friday. Sanwo-Olu hailed President of the Senate for constituting the ad-hoc Committee following a motion by the Senator representing Lagos West, Solomon Adeola. The Governor said the gesture showed that the entire members of the Senate felt the pain of loss with Lagosians.

The Governor expressed concern that the issue of pipeline vandalism kept re-occurring in the state, urging members of the committee not to leave any stone unturned in unraveling the root cause of the crime. As part of measures being taken by the state government to ensure the crime did not re-occur, Sanwo-Olu said he met with traditional rulers in the state to sensitize them on the need to join hand with the government and security agencies to secure Federal Government’s assets in their localities and also fish out criminals engaging in economic sabotage.

Sanwo-Olu said he was hopeful that the recommendations of the committee members would bring about a lasting solution to the problem. Other members of the committee, who visited the Governor, included Senators George Sekibo, Hassan Lawali, Muhammed Musa, and Degi-Eremionye Wangagha.

One of the victims’ mother, Fatia Afolabi, told journalists: “I want to thank the Lagos State Government for the swift and quick response which I particularly know is vital to the survival of my child. I want to particularly appreciate the kind gesture of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for taking up our treatment bills, this has in no small measure save me from the embarrassment of begging for alms from families and friends to take care of my child.”

Afolabi added: “The doctors and nurses here are empathetic and hard working. They tirelessly attend to my child without complaint even at the dead of the night. May God almighty grant their efforts with success. I appeal to the Governor to use his good office to put an end to this unfortunate man-made incidence.”

One of the victims at the Trauma and Burns Unit, Gbagada General Hospital who simply identifies himself as Modiu said: “I have been receiving prompt and adequate care since I was admitted here. The health workers in this facility are diligent and professional and they have been taking good care of me and other patients. I was told my blood pressure is very high, this is being managed well. Though I have lost most of what I labored for to the incidence, I am hopeful for a better tomorrow. I would like to use this medium to appeal to the Lagos State government to continue to do all it can to save my family members, my wife, and children who were also involved in the incidence.”

Also, a victim who is presently receiving care at the General Hospital, Alimosho, Mr. Omosalewa Taiwo, said that he is doing fine but just feeling pains on the right armpit where the burn wound is yet to heal. He said nurses on duty always come to dress the wounds and ensure that he takes his medications as prescribed. He gave kudos to the State government for showing great concern and care to him especially in this time of need.

Two relatives of some victims including minors, aged five and 10 who spoke with a journalist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital confirmed that they did not pay for the cost of treatment for their children because they were told that the Governor has directed that treatment be offered free of charge to them.

One of them, Adenike Fatai, said that all tests carried out at the hospital’s laboratory were free. Fatai said: “We also got our drugs free and the doctors and nurses are attending to us; I appreciate what the hospital management is doing and also the state government.”
Also, an aunt to one of the victims, who did not give her name, said her niece was responding to treatment, which according to her was free. She said: “Unfortunately, we lost the mother to the sad event. I am appreciative that hospital management is giving us the care we need.”


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