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Fallen tanker causes 16hr gridlock in Lagos

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Fallen tanker causes 16hr gridlock in Lagos


Vehicular traffic came to a standstill for  16 hours on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway on Friday, cutting short the trips of Eidel-Kabir holiday makers and other travellers.
The traffic logjam caused by an accident involving a 30,000 litre petrol tanker snowballed into frustrating spillover effect for road users across other parts of Lagos metropolis, while government agencies battled to evacuate it.
The petrol tanker was leaving Lagos for Ogun State at about 12 am on Friday when it ran into a pothole by New Garage, Berger. Consequently, the tanker ran into the road divider and eventually fell on its side blocking the expressway. The impact of the fall caused the tanker to detach its head from the body.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that while the tanker crossed the road, its detached head kept spinning for a while before it stopped.  However, rivulets of fuel dripped from the tanker onto the road and into the open drainage at the kerb.
Having envisaged a bad traffic situation, an Armoured Personnel Carrier station around the area was removed, while some passersby had volunteered to redirect motorists caught in the snarl up.
According to eyewitness accounts, no causality was recorded in the accident; but the driver and a passenger in the truck sustained various degrees of injuries. 
People travelling out of Lagos told Saturday PUNCH that their hope of getting to their  destinations remained a mirage for the hours that the traffic gridlock lasted.
Some of them who were travelling to celebrate the sallah narrated their frustration. A pregnant woman, Kemi Adebisi, said that she spent about three hours for a journey that should have taken just 20 minutes.
She said that the full tank of fuel in her vehicle that she hoped to use for a week had drastically drained in the unenvisaged traffic.
“I left Ojodu at about 11.30 am and did not get to my work place at Mowe till 2.45 pm. Normally, it is a 20-minute journey. I have never been this frustrated and angry at the same time. I was rushing to the office for a 1.30 pm appointment. I was driving alone in the car with a faulty air conditioner. The sun was really scorching, making matters worse,” Adebisi said.
A male commuter had called Lagos Traffic Radio, lamenting that he was late for an engagement. The caller explained that he was on his way to a social engagement as a Master of Ceremony. He feared that he may eventually disappoint his client because of the delay.
Another lady complained that she and her family were travelling to Ondo State for the Sallah celebration.
When Saturday PUNCH visited the accident scene at about 9 am, personnel of the Federal Road Safety Corps and Lagos State Traffic management Authority were seen working to resolve the traffic challenge.
The Zonal Head LASTMA, Ojodu Berger, Ayinde Kazeem, who was at the accident scene, told Saturday PUNCH that he was informed about the accident at about 4.30 am.
He said he saw the vehicle involved in the accident and its occupants and later positioned his men to help manage the gridlock.
He said, “At about 4.30 am on Friday morning we got the information that a tanker ran into a pothole and it fell apart. So I came to the scene of the accident where I met the tanker. From what we learnt, it was conveying petrol. We had to remove the head of the vehicle for safety so that it would not spark and ignite  a fire. We have contacted NUPENG and they have promised to bring an empty tanker to evacuate the content of the tanker.”
He added, “There is no way we can lift the tanker without offloading its content and we are careful so that it does not result in a fire incident.
“But before they arrived, we positioned our men around the area to divert motorists to alternative routes. That is why a single lane has been turned to double lane. This is to allow vehicular movement for people who are travelling for Sallah.” 
Kazeem appealed to the  concerned authorities, especially the Federal Ministry of Works, to fill the potholes on the highway to reduce cases of accidents. He said they had witnessed many accidents because of potholes.
Similarly, Leyin Adegboyega, the Ojota Unit Commander of the FRSC, who was also at the scene, said that another accident involving a truck happened a few kilometres away from the first one.
He said, “The first one happened around midnight. There is another one in front of Conoil, it happened around 6.30 am. The two tyres of the truck pulled off while it was in motion, making the cargo container to turn over. That one would be quite difficult to remove. I have contacted my Sector Commander, and he has contacted the Commissioner of Transport Lagos State. The governor has been informed and he has directed the release of a crane to remove both trucks.”
However, as at 1 pm, the fallen tanker in Berger was still blocking access to the road. At that time, commuters, who were travelling out of Lagos for the Sallah festivities, had alighted from their vehicles and had begun to trek past the scene of the accident to a place where they hoped to join another vehicle.
Sometime later, an empty Oando-branded fuel tanker emerged on the opposite side of the road apparently to empty the content fallen tanker.
“An empty tanker was on its way here from Apapa, but it was held up in traffic. So we had to stop this Oando tanker. It was coming in to Lagos and it is empty. We had to stop it and negotiate with the driver to empty this tanker for us so that we can move it away from the road.
“We are yet to start offloading because we don’t have the required equipment here. We need a pump and hose to make the offloading fast. If all those equipment were available, this whole problem could have long been resolved,” another official said.
Although offloading was yet to begin as at the time Saturday PUNCH left the scene, some officials of the government agencies were seen filling jerry cans and other containers with fuel.
At intervals, the Ogun State Fire Service sprayed the fallen tanker with water to cool it and prevent it from going up in flames.
The FRSC Lagos Sector Commander, Mr. Nseobong Akpabio, said, “One compartment of the fallen tanker has been emptied of fuel and we are currently on the second compartment. We’ re trying to handle it professionally to ensure that no life is lost.
“Once the transfer is complete, the fire fighters would wash the road and ensure that it is safe for traffic before opening the road up.”
The transfer loading was eventually be completed by 3 pm and officials of the OFS sprayed and later removed the barricades that closed the road to traffic.

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