Lagos mourns as six die, 79 injured in Lagos train-bus collision
• Sanwo-olu, Hamzat, Alfadarai visit victims at LASUTH • NSIB begins probe as eyewitness claims driver wore earphone
• Minister, Lagos govt, others condole with families
• NRC cautions motorists to be careful while passing level crossing
It was a painful sight, yesterday, as scores of victims of the Lagos bus–train collision were being attended to by medical doctors at Lagos State University Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja.
The victims, treated in open space, were survivors of the accident, which killed a nursing mother and seven other staff members of Lagos State government.
They were killed when their staff bus marked Lagos: 04A-48LA, collided with a train operated by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) along Agege Motor Road in Shogunle, Lagos.
The immediate cause of the incident was the reported reckless driving on the part of the bus driver while trying to beat the train traffic signal at a railway crossing, before the moving train rammed into the bus.
A security guard in the area, Promise Fineman told The Guardian: “I heard the sounds a few minutes past 7:00a.m. I ran out and I saw three people already on the floor. I saw people making videos instead of rescuing. So ,I jumped inside the bus through the window and saw five people dead already on the bus.”
On emergency rescuers, he said: “Emergency workers were not here on time and that was a big problem, but people with cars started carrying those injured to the hospital before an ambulance arrived at the scene.”
Speaking on the incident, Railway District Manager, Lagos District, Augustin Arisa, said: At 7:20a.m. we got the distress call from our driver that there was an accident at Shogunle’s level crossing. While other drivers were waiting for the train to cross, the bus driver veered off from where other vehicles waited and entered the track. Before the train could stop, it had already carried the vehicle to a distance of about 100 metres where it was forced to stop.
“I want to use this opportunity to warn that people should not stay on the track; you are an intruder to be on the track. The railway will be paid should anybody die on the track.”
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Idowu Owohunwa, who was in the company of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 2 Command, Abiodun Alabi, said the policemen on ground were able to control the crowd to ensure smooth operation and removal of the vehicle: “We have a protocol for dealing with an incident like this and it was activated and we made sure that the crowd control and the emotional component was properly managed to give room for the emergency response team.”
When The Guardian visited the Accident Unit of Lagos State University Teahcing Hospital (LASUTH), the environment was in a sober mood as families of victims and residents thronged the hospital to catch a glimpse of the scene while hospital staff had a tough time preventing them from reaching out to victims.
One of the victim’s brothers, Mr Layeni Lateef, told The Guardian that the notice about his younger brother’s ordeal came to him as a shock as he was wondering how a train on its track would collide with a staff bus.
He urged commercial drivers to be extremely careful and obey traffic rules while driving.
Another victim’s friend, Rotimi Ogundeji said that he was in his shop when he got a call that his friend, Taiwo Lawal was involved in an accident. With the shock, he hurried to the teaching hospital to meet his friend lying in critical condition.
The Chief Medical of the hospital, Prof Adetokunbo Banwo, could not speak to The Guardian, on the ground that there will be a briefing today.
However, a staff of the hospital said, some of the victims were in critical condition.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has expressed deep shock and sorrow over the accident involving a train and a Lagos State Government staff bus, which happened between Shogunle and Ikeja axis.
The governor, who visited LASUTH with his deputy, Femi Hamzat and other government officials, condoled with the families of those that lost their lives in the accident, praying that God would grant them eternal rest.
He said: “I was at LASUTH for on the spot assessment of the condition of the victims of the bus/train accident.
“The team at LASUTH expertly setup an outdoor triage centre which has contributed in saving lives, speeding up injury level profiling and supporting immediate critical action.
“This was a totally avoidable incident that simply required patience and the need to follow proper transportation protocol.
“There were 85 passengers on board the bus with 6 deaths, 42 moderate injuries, 29 serious and 8 mild injuries according to the LASUTH classification scale.
“Lagos is in a state of mourning and for the next 3 days, I am suspending all campaign activities. All flags will be flown at half mast and tomorrow all civil servants will work till 12 noon before returning home to be with their loved ones during this trying time.
“It is still a critical period for some of the patients as we continue to call for blood donations across different state government medical facilities.
“This is a call for our humanity to rise above all. I also thank LASEMA, the security agencies, staff and students of LASUTH, and everyone who rose up to the occasion as soon as this unfortunate accident happened.
“I am deeply saddened by the news of the accident. The vehicle was conveying staff of the Lagos State Government, our staff who serve the state in different capacities.
“Let’s say a prayer for the families and a prayer of mercy and protection for our state.
“My thoughts are with the victims and their families during this difficult time.”
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, Governor Sanwo-Olu, thanked Lagosians who joined the State’s first responders in the search and rescue operation, saying the true spirit of Lagos must be sustained at all times.
“A big thank you to well-meaning Lagosians, who immediately joined in rescue efforts. Our first responders and emergency services are on ground and we will share more information shortly.”
When asked about the fate of the driver, Lagos State Police Commissioner said: “Our attention is largely on saving lives, then an investigation will commence thereafter.”
Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos, Abdul-Azeez Adediran (Jandor), who visited the scene said an investigation should commence to unravel what led to the accident. “This is unbecoming, just less than 24 hours after the Akere Market incident.
The first thing to do is to commiserate with the families of those that lost their lives. We pray that God gives them the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss; it’s about time we began to construct barriers that will prevent vehicles from accessing the tracks when a train is approaching; vehicular movement should be stopped three kilometres from a train. The government should take this responsibility to prevent the loss of lives.”
Also, the State Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC ), Lagos State Command, Commandant of Corps Usman Ishaq Alfadarai, has ordered the Disaster and Crisis Management Team of the Command to carry out further mop up rescue operation and protection of life and property of residents .
Alfadarai, also joined the Executive Governor, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo – Olu and the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Kadiri Hamzat, to visit LASUTH, to see the victims and ascertain the state of their medical situation.
He condoled with the Lagos State government, and families of victims of the accident and assured of timely response to emergency operations.
Meanwhile, Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika , has directed the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) experts to commence immediate investigation into the accident.
Describing the accident as unfortunate, Sirika assured the public of the capacity of NSIB to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the accident and proffer ways of preventing such in the future.
In a statement by Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation (Public Affairs), Dr. James Odaudu, he solicited the cooperation of members of the public as investigation by the NSIB team commences.
Also, Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, said: “We are saddened by the news and we pray for eternal repose for those who have lost their lives and we pray the Almighty God to grant them eternal rest and we pray for a speedy recovery to the injured.
“We commiserate with the families of the victims and particularly the governor and people of Lagos state. Please accept our deepest concern and sincere condolences.
“We also appreciate the Corporation we got from the Lagos State Government, NEMA and concerned Nigerians who swung into action after the ill-fated incident to ensure the site was cleared and the injured got treatment almost immediately.”