No fewer than 34 houses and 70 shops were on Saturday gutted by fire that emanated from another petrol tanker explosion at Idimu, Egbe-Idimu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos State.
The explosion left scores of residents whose houses, shops and kiosks were completely burnt to ashes, devastated. More so, it was the third of such tanker explosions in Lagos in the last six days.
It was gathered that one of the houses gutted belongs to the mother of the former boss of Egbe-Idimu LCDA, Waheed Bello.
Witnesses who spoke in separate interviews said the explosion was caused by some tanker drivers who drove recklessly on the narrow path with their trucks fully loaded with Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and diesel, and that disaster struck when one of the rather careless tanker drivers lost control at a sharp bend and tumbled, thereby spilling over 33,000 litres of PMS at the Idimu main junction.
Charles Ebohodaghe, an eyewitness said he heard twin explosions immediately the tanker tumbled, saying the spilled content caught fire from a nearby Suya spot at past 12am.
He said, “it was one of the most dangerous moments I have seen since I have been living here. The truck drivers are often careless around here once it is night and the road is slightly free. I was up there in my room when I saw these two trucks going at top speed to catch up with each other.
“At the BRT end of Idimu, they caught up with one another and were both still speeding. But on getting to the bend, one of them lost control, causing this accident.”
Speaking at the scene of the tragic accident, Lagos state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, described the frequent fuel tanker explosions in the state as worrisome.
“This is another unfortunate incident happening within one week; unfortunate in the sense that, we are beginning to lose a lot of our assets and property to fire. I have been briefed that there were two tanker drivers actually competing on the road at midnight, including a commercial bus driver and as a result, the tanker driver lost control at the bend and it was 33,000 litres of PMS and at a bend, in a sloppy area, you could see the contents went as far as five streets. We’ve lost close to 34 houses, 70 shops. We do not want this to repeat again.
“We have said it before, we need to address our tanker drivers and start to enforce our traffic laws. I have directed that we would meet with the union of tanker drivers on Monday morning and we must make a pronouncement relating to the usage of our roads. I commiserate with all the people here. I appeal for calm. We would do immediate relief; we would take enumeration and see in what ways we can address your pain. We would do everything in our power to help them get back to their normal lives,” the governor said.
Also speaking at the scene, the Director, Lagos Fire Service, Rasak Fadipe, said the distress call was received at 12:08am and his men responded promptly.
“The effort we put in has saved the MRS fuel station from being engulfed by fire and we have as well saved several buildings here. I want to thank the communities that supported us and other emergency responders. But this fire has consumed a lot of firefighting materials that could have been used to put out about 15 to 20 fire outbreaks. As the governor said, something has to be done to avert this type of incidents,” he added.
Also speaking, Hyginus Umeje, Sector Commander, FRSC said when they got the distress call, they responded alongside other agencies.