Many people at the wee hours of Thursday sustained varying injuries while articulated vehicles were burnt after a Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) laden tanker exploded at Mile-Two Oke, along Oshodi-Apapa in Lagos.
The explosion occurred around 1am when the tanker said to have loaded products from a nearby tank farm, upturned while trying it navigate a bad portion of the highway.
As soon as it fell, witnesses said went up in flames with the fire following the trail of spilled PMS even to the other parts of the highway.
Although witnesses claimed no fewer than 10 vehicles were gutted by fire including a truck belonging to LACASERA with beverages loaded in it, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) said three vehicles were affected.
It was gathered that most of the truck drivers were sleeping inside their vehicles when they heard a loud bang that brought them to reality, leading to a stampede.
While some of the drivers were able to speedily take their vehicles off the express, some others awaiting to be called into the ports were not that fortunate as the fire which spread to the other lanes also affected them.
It was learnt that trucks that were mostly affected were those behind the exploded tanker as well as the LACASERA vehicle and a truck that attempted to enter the beverage company’s premises for safety.
Giving an eyewitness account, a truck driver, Musa said: “My truck was the fourth on the queue. I was waiting for those in front to pass the failed section when I saw one of them fell. When the fire started, it caught the truck that was beside the affected one.
“The driver of another truck loaded with stationeries that was heading for Kaduna, attempted to drive into LACASERA company, only for the fire to spread to it. The driver and motor boy had to jump down, while the whole goods were burnt. Another truck loaded with beverages was also burnt.
“I tried as much as I could to reverse when I saw the fire because my truck was also loaded with petroleum products and I didn’t want it to explode. But there were other vehicles behind me. At that point, the fire had spread to the front of my truck. The only alternative I had was to jump out.
“People made calls to the fire service stations but they came around 3am. It was some firemen from LACASERA Company that helped put out the fire. If they were not there, it would have been terrible. Those that were injured were rushed to the hospital.”
Motorists who spoke to journalists blamed the deplorable state of that portion of the road for the disaster.
“This portion has been like this for so long. It gets worse every day. Will the government say it doesn’t know that this place has become impassable?
“For a month now, commercial vehicles from Oshodi, stop at Fagbems, instead of Mile Two Oke or Berger Suya to pick passengers who have to trek a long distance to get there,” grumbled passengers in a commercial bus Thursday.
A motorist, Saliu Mukaila, who lamented spending over 20 hours in and out of Apapa, said he went to the ports to pick up cleared vehicles.
He said he initially spent seven hours to get to Mile Two from First Gate only to be trapped for another 13 hours as a result of the incident.
“Surviving in Nigeria is a big task. Can you imagine I have spent 19 hours on this road since yesterday, all because the government failed to fix the bad portions on the axis? When will all these end?
“Governments are insensitive to the plight of the commoners. Will lives perish here before something urgent is done? This road should have been fixed a long time ago, considering the importance of this axis,” he lamented.
Confirming the incident, Director General (DG) LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu said no life was lost, adding that two tankers and a truck got burnt.
He said: “There was no loss of life. We received the distress call concerning the explosion around 1am and activated emergency response plan.
“On arrival, it was discovered that a fuel tanker loaded with PMS had overturned and burst into flames due to the oil spillage. This in turn affected some stationary trailers parked inwards Apapa.
“A combined team comprising Lagos Fire, Police, Federal Fire and LASEMA responders have extinguished the flames.
“The burnt tankers were evacuated from the road and the main lanes reopened for traffic. Tankers on the service lane are being trans-loaded.”