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Motorists trapped in gridlock after twin tanker explosions on Lagos-Ibadan highway

By Victor Gbonegun
03 December 2020   |   3:11 am
It was a hectic time yesterday for thousands of motorists trapped on the Magboro axis of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in Ogun State as firefighters battled for hours to quench an explosion from a petrol tanker on the busy highway.

It was a hectic time yesterday for thousands of motorists trapped on the Magboro axis of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in Ogun State as firefighters battled for hours to quench an explosion from a petrol tanker on the busy highway.

Although there were no casualties, the incident caused gridlock at the inward and outward lanes of the expressway, as the fuel being conveyed by the tanker spilled to the other side of the road, halting movement.

The tanker went up in flames on the lane outwards Lagos around 4:15a.m. Many commuters heading in and out of Lagos were forced to trek to their destinations while Okada riders in the area took advantage of the situation to hike their fares.

It took the timely arrival of firefighters and other emergency responders to limit the impact of the fire.Just when efforts were combined to ease the traffic, another tanker explosion occurred at Wawa on Lagos-Ibadan highway some hours after a fuel-laden tanker exploded on the same route.

This unfortunate event dragged traffic beyond Berger along the axis leading up to the popular Otedola Bridge. Efforts were ongoing to extinguish the fire as at press time.

Narrating the experience to The Guardian, a resident of Magboro who pleaded that the name shouldn’t be mentioned said: “I work in Lagos and often leave home very early. With the road in total lockdown, I had to abandon my car and jumped on an Okada. It was even difficult to get a bike at a moderate price. I think it was high time government developed a workable solution to this unpleasant tanker fire experience on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. The incessant explosions would not make the road they are repairing for ages even last as each fire explosion would compromise the integrity of the road.”

In a charge notice to the public following the incident, the Federal Road Safety Commission’s (FRSC) Corridor Commander, Mr. Kehinde Hamzat, advised motorists planning to use the corridor to adequately plan their trips and use alternative routes where possible because of the gridlock.

The commission said: “The tanker explosion on Magboro Bridge on the outward Lagos section of the expressway which occurred at about 0415hrs in the early hours of the day, has called for the need to adjust one’s movement for the day. The fire is still burning as at 5:20a.m. and this means a total standstill situation of vehicular movement along the expressway.”

He assured motorists that relentless efforts were being made to extinguish the fire by men of Fire Service backed up by men of other agencies around the scene of the inferno. “We also advise that travellers who are bound to transit in and out of Lagos from the neighbouring state to explore alternative routes where necessary.”

The Lagos-Ibadan highway has become notorious for tanker explosions in recent times without any significant effort to prevent a reoccurrence by the authorities.

On November 7, a similar explosion had occurred on the highway at Kara Bridge killing two persons with about 20 vehicles consumed in the inferno. A car dealer, Mr. Adekunle Adeyemo, who had operated for more than eight years along the corridor, lost 14 cars to the November incident.

Some weeks earlier in October, there was an explosion on Otedola Bridge involving a tanker loaded with Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) and a truck carrying other goods. Both trucks were out-bound Lagos for delivery.

A 40-feet containerized truck loaded with fabric had a brake failure while moving inward Berger. It then collided with a tanker loaded with 33,000 litres of PMS. The impact of the collision resulted in fire outbreak.

Speaking on the major cause of crashes involving heavy-duty trucks on Otedola Bridge and Kara Bridge, the FRSC Sector Commander in charge of Lagos, Mr. Olusegun Ogungbemide, said it is the inability of the tractor heads with low engine capacity to pull the heavily laden trucks up the hilly road after descending the steep slope.

According to him, the command’s accident investigators have also discovered that over-speeding contributes to the crashes involving the trucks at the Kara Bridge, stating that the drivers in panic step on the brakes when they suddenly come upon the bad sections of the road. He added that the problem has been considerably solved following an appeal by the FRSC to Julius Berger, which smoothened the rough patches.

He recommended the restriction of the movement of trucks (trailers and fuel tankers) in the state as a solution to the frequent accidents involving such vehicles. Ogungbemide said the roads would be safer if the tankers and trailers are restricted to the hours between midnight and 5:00a.m., adding, however, that the state government needs to enact a law to make the measure enforceable.