…toddler rescued during excavations
…Sanwo-Olu announces N2bn relief fund
By Olanipekun Yinka
Throngs of spectators on Monday stormed Abule Ado gas explosion site in Amuwo Odofin local government area of Lagos State with government agencies and victims of collapsed building gathering the scraps of their razed edifices.
Nigerian NewsDirect gathered from resident at the scene that the explosion occupied as a result of fire from a seller of cooked Indomie in the area where Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) was gushing out from pipeline damaged by a truck carrying granite.
This fire caused heavy explosion on PMS gushing out with force from the portion damaged by the tyre of the truck which also destroyed over 50 houses and terminated the lives of 20 people. At the time of the incident, NNPC was pumping PMS through the system 2B pipeline. which runs from Atlas Cove to its Ejigbo Depot in Lagos and Mosimi in Ogun State.
Thereby, the corporation linked the explosion to gas cylinders of the bottling plant.
The fire explosion, according to the eyewitness touched the highly inflammable gas from cylinders at a nearby gas bottling plant also close to the pipeline right of way.
The eye witness also said that the corporation had directed residents to vacate the area in December 2019 during inspection and discovery of pipeline exposed to the surface. Thereafter, properties at Ijegun communities were scheduled for removal.
It would be recalled that the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Mile Kyari had advised people living close to the corporation pipeline right of way to stop illegal activities. Subsequently, buildings at Ijegun around the pipeline illegally constructed close to the pipeline right of way at Ijegun were destroyed.
Speaking exclusively with Nigerian NewsDirect, at the explosion site, an eye witness, Miss Mariam disclosed that the explosion was caused by residents’ carelessness.
She said, “We were at our work place together with my friends before deciding to go and gamble to see the area. On our way we discovered that a truck carrying granite got stucked on a swampy portion on the road with oil pipeline lying underneath the ground.
“In an attempt to get the truck out, its rolling tyres broke the exposed oil pipeline which led to the spilling of its content.
“The truck driver immediately ran out of the scene because we had started seeing oil gushing out with force and also the smell of premium motor spirit spread across the area.
“Prior to this, there was a Malam who fries Indomie close to my factory the whole place exploded when the diffused gasoline came in contact with the Malam’s fire.
“The fire started from his shop and the fire went back to the leaking pipeline which later exploded.”
Another eye witness who claimed anonymity also said, “I saw the truck when it got stucked n the pipeline area.
“I decided to go and help the truck driver but before I got to his place, I saw him running away from the truck and I also ran because I didn’t know what was happening.
“After a short while we started perceiving the smell of fuel and everyone began to run, suddenly we heard an explosion which affected the whole place.
Another eye witness, Mr. Olorunwa from a Celestial Church of Christ close to the explosion site said “the explosion happened around 8:30 am on Sunday.
“We were preparing for service and suddenly we discovered flames from the spot where a truck got stucked.
“It was the smell we perceived that gave us signal that something bad was going to happen.
“Immediately we all ran together with the rest of our members far away from the church premises. While we were escaping it exploded and as you can see, our church and houses have been greatly affected.”
Following the disheartening incidents, Mary Wood Girls College recorded a lot of losses as the school hostel and part of the school building was affected. Workers of the school were seen recovering certain items.
A shop owner in the area also counted his losses adding that he had loss over 5 million naira worth of goods to the inferno.
However, a toddler was also found in the rubbles together with her parents and brother.
A female official of the Nigerian Red cross made this known while carrying the girl in her harms.
She said” the child’s mother is in Naval hospital while her father and brother receiving treatment in Igando general hospital. The mother and brother are fine because we visited her around 10:30pm on Sunday night.
However, the Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu constituted a fact-finding Committee to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the explosion which rocked Abule-Ado in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of the state.
The Committee has two weeks to deliver on its mandate. Sanwo-Olu equally announced a N2 billion Emergency Relief Fund for victims of the Sunday, March 15, 2020, explosion/ fire incident.
The Governor, who stated this while briefing press men, after an on-the-spot assessment of the area on Monday morning, along with his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, commiserated with the families who lost loved ones, and those whose properties were destroyed.
He immediately announced the sum of N250 million as commitment on the part of the state government, to kickstart the endowment fund. Sanwo-Olu added that he had never seen destruction of such magnitude and appealed to Lagosians to donate generously to the fund. He stressed that banks and other well meaning Nigerians will contribute to the fund.
He added that the fund will be used to pay hospital bills of the victims and assist those who are displaced.
“We will set up a fact-finding mission, a panel that will come here and give us report in the next two weeks as to the cause of the incident and loss of lives and property. They will have two weeks to do extensive investigation and tell us what we need to do so this does not repeat itself.
“I am also setting up Abule-Ado Shoba Emergency Relief Fund. Its a N2 billion relief fund and we will put N250million into it. We also have some banks that are going to support us. This will allow some individual to also donate into the account. Part of the relief fund will be used to settle displaced citizens and pay hospital bills. I will meet with Mr President tomorrow to give him a report of the incident and we will be seeking assistance of the federal government,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Sanwo-Olu said three account numbers have been opened in Polaris, Zenith and Guaranty Trust Banks with the account name: Abule -Ado Emergency Relief Fund. Polaris: 4030017510; Zenith: 1017184516; GTB:0568615688 to this effect, with five emergency telephone numbers also listed.
The Governor commended all first responders for their prompt response, stating that 250 street sweepers and 250 Neighborhood Watch volunteers will be deployed to the site to commence immediate clean up exercise. He warned residents to steer clear of the area, because, according to him, the site is still alive.
“Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) will deploy 250 sweepers to clear the site and I want to enjoined all citizens to steer clear of the site. Buildings that need to be pulled down will be pulled down. While some will redeveloped.”
Security operatives were seen on ground with other responders from the state and Federal on ground at the site, which has been cordoned off.
The fact-finding Committee will include the following, and is to be Chaired by the Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat, with Commissioner for Special Duties, Tayo Bamgbose -Martins as Co-Chairman; Commissioners for Education, Environment, Finance, Physical Planning and relevant stakeholders, especially representatives of the school affected, Bethlehem Girls college, CDC/CDA and two representatives of the Community.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the state government has described the loss of innocent lives as a result of the blast, which brought grief to numerous families, as sad.
The Government assured Lagosians that efforts were on to determine the cause of the explosion that has left many homeless.
Giving an update about the incident, the Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, commiserated with the affected families, saying that efforts are on to evacuate the casualties.
Oke-Osanyintolu expressed concern that the blast had displaced several residents, who fled their homes for fear of being caught in the inferno.
While noting that the primary cause of the explosion remains unknown, the Director-General confirmed that secondary explosions occurred at the location of the blast and caused significant damage to multiple buildings, including a Church that was razed. St. Margaret’s Girls Hostel, close to the site was also affected.
Oke-Osanyintolu said all rescue and recovery Agencies, including the Lagos State and Federal Fire Services personnel, Lagos State Safety Commission, Lagos State Building Control Agency, as well as the Ministry of Special Duties, are still clearing the debris of the incident.
He said that 17 bodies have so far been recovered from the rubble while 25 injured people are being treated for injuries at the site.
The Lagos state Material Testing Laboratory (LSMTL) deployed its workers to inform residents of the site on the need to do a general testing on all the affected and non affected houses.
According to the general manager of LSMTL, Dr. Afolabi Abiodun while speaking with Nigerian NewsDirect, said “ what we intend doing as an agency is to subject all the houses in this area to what we call non destructive testing whether the affected ones or not.
“It is aimed at knowing the strength of the standing building and we are working in collaboration with other government agencies.”
He added that immediately the testing is free and immediately it is done houses will be pronounced condemned or safe to live.