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Fresh tanker explosion razes over 34 houses, 70 shops in Lagos

•Ambode to meet tanker drivers, stakeholders tomorrow

A petrol tanker exploded early yesterday at Idimu, a suburb of Lagos, setting about 34 houses and 70 shops ablaze, just four days after another petrol tanker caught fire at Iyana Ipaja also in Lagos.

The latest incident occurred a little after 00.20 hours
when the driver of the ill fated tanker was overtaking another tanker at the Idimu Bus Stop.

The tanker overturned in the process, spilled its content on the road and immediately burst into flames.

The fire thus ignited spread to nearby buildings and could have caused more damage but for the quick intervention of the Lagos State Fire Service, eye witnesses said.

They were joined by members of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the Police, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA) for rescue operations.

Men of the Fire Brigade were said to have put out the fire by 6am.

There was no immediate report of loss of life.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode visited the scene of the explosion in the afternoon to assess the situation.

He summoned Petroleum Products Tanker Drivers’ Union and stakeholders to an emergency meeting tomorrow to address the incessant petrol tanker-induced fires in the state.

The governor said the number of tanker explosions in the state is disturbing and it was high time the state government sat down with tanker drivers to ensure it never happens again.

He said: “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 as at midnight including a commercial bus driver. As a result, the tanker driver lost control at the bend and it was 33,000litres 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 itself again. We have said it before, we need to address our tanker drivers and start to enforce our traffic laws. I have directed that the union of tanker drivers we would meet on Monday morning and we must make pronouncement relating to the usage of our roads.

Moved by the pleas of some residents who lost their properties to the inferno, the Governor directed the State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) to collate the names of victims with a view to providing immediate relief to cushion their pain.

Victims who were rendered homeless and those whose shops were affected by the inferno began to count their losses immediately.

A pitiable Yemisi Osinaike sobbed uncontrollably as she recounted how she watched her late father’s house go up in flames.

“It was only yesterday (Friday) that I spent all the money I had to stock my shop. Everything has been destroyed.

Where do I start from?” she said, held by her friends before they took her to a safe distance away from the prying eyes of onlookers.

Kudirat Olusi, whose family house was also razed said she had just left her road side store and was about to retire to bed when she heard what sounded like tankers over speeding by trailers.

What followed, according to her, was an explosion.
She dashed out of the house with only a wrapper tied across her chest.

She ran back into the house to warn her family and neighbours to scamper for their lives.

“Where do we start from now? Everything I had is gone with the fire. I took nothing out of the house. All my clothes, goods, including money from Alajeseku (co-operative union) that I collected yesterday were burnt,” Olusi said, sobbing.

An eyewitness, Charles Ebohodaghe, watched the incident from a nearby three storey house where he has been residing since 1985.

He said: “It is one of the most dangerous moments I have seen since I’ve been living here. Truck drivers are often careless around here once it is dark and the road is slightly free.

“I was up there in my room when I saw this two trucks going at top speed, one trying to outdo the other. At the BRT end of Idimu, one caught up with the another but on getting to the bend one of the drivers lost control causing this accident.

“The fuel was just gushing into the gutter and everyone had to scamper for safety. The fire was so big and terrifying. In no time all this area was engulfed by fire.

These are all shops, usually fully stocked. All were burnt. It is a disaster.”

Another resident, Hakeem Salaudeen, said the inferno could be seen from afar with alarm ringing from all angles warning people to run for their lives.

Salaudeen gave kudos to men of the Lagos State Fire Service and residents for their timely response that prevented the fire from engulfing an MRS filling station on the Idimu-Ejigbo road.

“The firemen were here on time and they worked till 6am. The youths were fetching water to quench the fire.”

By dawn, the extent of damage hit the residents hard.
Shop owners who reside far away got there yesterday to see that their shops were gone.

Jonathan Obi, who runs two retail shops at the Idimu junction said he lost goods worth N4 million.

“This is what I use in feeding my family. Nothing in there was insured. They are all gone. Government has to come to our aide,” Obi said.

Director of the Lagos State Fire Service, Rasak Fadipe, told journalists that his men got a distress call at 12:08 am, and mobilized rescue response team from Ikotun.

“On seeing that it was a major explosion, we had to
mobilise others from Akowonjo, Sari Iganmu, Ikeja and Alimoso to ensure that the fire didn’t get to the MRS filling station in the neighborhood, which could have spelt doom for the entire community.”

The Idimu fire incident, according to him, brings to 888, the number of fire incidents recorded in the state from January to May 2015.

South West Coordinator of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ibrahim Farinloye said that the full assessment of the incident was ongoing and in the next 24 hours, they would take stock of all the affected — home owners, tenants and children — to have them taken care of according to standard best practices.

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