An accident involving a moving train, a bus, and a private vehicle yesterday morning killed a 58-year-old trader, Christopher Ugobidi, and left his teenage son injured near the Nigerian Army Shopping Arena, Oshodi.
The incident triggered pandemonium at the busy area of Oshodi.
According to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the train rammed into the Volkswagen T4 bus at the Arena crossing, pushing it to Oshodi under-bridge.
The Guardian gathered that Ugobidi and his son, Arinze, were in a grey-coloured Toyota Highlander SUV with registration number, FST 723 FL, when the train dragged the Volkswagen T4 bus towards their direction.
Medical personnel at the One Life Hospital, where the victims were rushed to, confirmed that the trader was brought in dead while his son was transferred to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, for treatment.
Eyewitnesses who spoke with The Guardian at the scene of the crash said the Toyota Highlander was parked metres away from the track at the entrance of the shopping arena.
One of the witnesses, a cloth trader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “I was waiting in our vehicle with my father when I saw that the train had dragged the bus. The bus was parked off the track and the effect sent everyone into panic, including me.
“Just before the bus touched the SUV, I saw people telling him (the trader) to move his car far away from the track but he felt that they were out of danger. Before he could attempt to save himself and his son, it was too late.”
The source added that proactive steps by market authorities could have prevented the accident. “Traders get here very early in the morning to avoid Lagos traffic, but we are always denied entrance by the guards when we come in early. Because of this, we have to park our vehicles by the track and wait till when the gates are opened to everyone. I just wish the market authorities will get to act by opening the gates early so vehicles can go in to stop things like this from happening. ”
A brother to the trader, who simply identified himself as Obi, said: “As you can see, I am trying to get to the hospital now to check on the boy. I can’t say much. I was called by one of the traders in the market. My brother sold canvas and slippers at the market. He was waiting for the day’s activities to start when this sad incident happened.”
Officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) have since evacuated the affected vehicles from the scene of the accident.
The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) said the train had since arrived at its destination at Iddo. The Lagos District Manager of NRC, Jerry Oche, in a chat with The Guardian confirmed that a team of railway engineers was on its way to the site to assess the impact of the accident and the level of damage done to the tracks.
The Guardian reports that the accident happened on the day the corporation resumed the Lagos-Ogun Mass Transit Train (MTT) after over five-month shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oche said: “We resumed this morning and at Arena level crossing, there was an accident because a vehicle was abandoned at the track. So the train hit the vehicle. LASEMA was helpful because they were the ones that came to remove the vehicles off the track.
“The train has got to its destination which is Iddo. It was coming from Ijoko. We are going there now to assess the damage to the track before we know whether we can run the train again today or not. Of course, we also have to evacuate whatever that is left there on the tracks.”
The Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday evening also visited the scene of the accident to get an on-the-spot assessment of the incident.
The accident occurred at about 8:12 a.m. Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, confirmed that one person died and seven others got injured.
He said the two vehicles were dragged along for a stretch of the journey before the train managed to come to a complete halt.
“The agency was able to successfully extricate a total of eight passengers, six with minor injuries were provided with on-site medical care, while two males sustained severe injuries and were taken to LASUTH for further treatment. The other adult male subsequently lost his life.”