Hell as multiple crashes lock down Lagos roads
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor and Abdulwaheed Usamah
IT was like an apocalyptic scene yesterday on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway after a ghastly accident, which occurred between Ikeja Along and Ile-Zik bus-stop locked down the heart of Lagos for many hours and left thousands of Lagosians stranded.
At least, two people lost their lives on the ever-busy Lagos Abeokuta Expressway when a trailer carrying a container crushed the driver of Eko Meat Van and his aide to death.
Eyewitness said six other injured victims were immediately taken to the hospital for treatment.
An eyewitness, who simply gave his name as Samuel, said the truck conveying a 20-feet container rammed into the Eko meat van when some policemen attached to the Rapid Respond Squad were chasing a commercial motorcycle plying the proscribed highway.
“I think the driver of the truck did not want to kill the Okada man. As he struggled to avoid running into the meat van, he lost control, swerved to the pavement and fell on the meat van. The driver and his assistant died on the spot,” he said.
Speaking on the incident, the Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations, Lagos, Mr. Tunde Shobulo, said he was not briefed that his men were chasing the Okada rider when the accident occurred.
His account of what happened was, however, different. According to him, the van was driving against traffic and crashed into the oncoming truck whose driver lost control, given the heavy load it was carrying.
The accident brought traffic to a standstill around Ikeja, Iyana Ipaja, Agege and Oshodi. According to other eyewitnesses, the collision involving three vehicles, including a fully loaded articulated truck, was caused by an Okada rider, who was trying to evade arrest from policemen at the scene of the accident. One of them told The Guardian that the policemen sped away immediately it happened in a white RRS Hilux with the inscription number 333.
For over seven hours, it was a hellish experience for motorists with the eight-lane expressway blocked on both lanes. 18-wheelers, fuel tankers and sedans, wedged bumper-to-bumper in both directions.
Curses and horn blasts pierced the exhaust-choked air. Brakes screeched as vehicles inched forward and cars rocked violently back and front at little intervals of movement.
It was the mother of all gridlocks, a spiraling effect, which left all the bus-stops along the route crowded with thousands of commuters, while stranded passengers decided to help themselves on foot by trekking long distances to their destination.
With the restriction on activities of motorcycles on the highways, which effectively banned Okada on the route, the only alternative left for commuters, which was to ply the trains, was also hitched, as the rail line passing through Ile-Zik was obstructed by the accident. This also shut down the trains from operating for most part of yesterday.
While the incident at the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway hampered movement in and around Ikeja, a string of multiple accidents in other parts of Lagos led to an emergency situation on almost all major roads in the state.
An accident involving a truck at Magboro junction going towards Ibafo on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway caused heavy traffic on the busy highway, which stretched to Arepo and Berger on both sides of the express. Also, another accident occurred at Ijora Olopa under bridge that locked down traffic along the axis.
It wasn’t until 4pm when a crane was used to remove the fallen truck that traffic eased at the Ile-Zik bus-stop, but the respite was only for a while on the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway as the daily traffic buildup of motorists returning from work heightened the gridlock, which extended to Agege-Mushin motor-road.