Two persons were on Wednesday wounded and 21 vehicles destroyed after a diesel tanker exploded on the Festac Town Link Bridge in Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos.
The incident, which occurred at about 12:00 p.m., also razed five motorcycles, a truck and scores of travelling bags displayed at a nearby shop.
The injured persons were identified as Kenneth Odogwu, who suffered leg burns and one Olumide, said to have passed out after inhaling fumes from the explosion.
At least 18 of the 21 vehicles razed were recently imported by a car dealer, Chinedu Nwafor, who displayed them at his shop beside the bridge.
It was gathered that the red tanker, which was on a blue Marc truck, was ascending the bridge from First Avenue when it lost track.
According to eyewitnesses, the articulated vehicle started rolling backward, fell and spilled its content into the canal and adjoining roads.
The Nation gathered from eyewitnesses that the fire was ignited by a vanagon bus, which made to reverse upon sighting the tanker
A motorcyclist, Mohammed Zango said: “It was around past 12:00 p.m. The tanker was climbing the bridge but before we knew it, it started going back. It seems the tanker could not climb. Then, it fell and petrol was pouring out of it.
“The closest vehicle to the tanker was a bus. The bus was carrying food stuffs and a woman was the one driving it. As soon as she saw the tanker spilling petrol, she started her engine and made to reverse. That was when the explosion occurred.
“The woman could not even come out of her vehicle. It was some of my brothers that assisted her out. The fire jumped from her car and caught another bus carrying bread on the other side of the road.
“Then from the tanker, the fire entered the car shop and burnt so many vehicles to ashes. A man who was inside a Nissan car was burnt on the leg.
“Another man, an area boy, who was assisting the car shop owner to move some vehicles fainted. He was rushed to the hospital. The fire was too much. People just abandoned their motorcycles and fled. We did not even know when the driver escaped. I did not see him.”
A distraught Nwafor told journalists that he was still in shock over the disaster, adding that by the time they heard the explosion and rushed out, nine of his vehicles displayed outside were already in flames.
He blamed the Federal Fire Service for not responding timely to the emergency, adding that though they got to the scene early, they neither had water nor extinguisher to put out the fire.
He said: “I was here. I do not know the exact time but we were discussing. We heard a vehicle rolling back and we screamed. We started rushing out to know what was the cause but before we got to the gate, we heard an explosion.
“We started rushing to remove our cars. I lost 18 vehicles in all including a lorry. Outside the gate, nine of my vehicles were burnt to ashes. Inside here, I lost a Honda CRV, Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner, Highlander, RX330 and a lorry.
“Honestly, I cannot give you the cost of the losses because I have not even itemised them yet. We are still very shocked at the whole incident. We have some vehicles that are up to N11 million, others about N7.5 million. I can tell you roughly that we have lost about N80 million to this fire.
“It is a pity that things are still happening the way they are in this country. If government had lived up to expectation, I am sure that these tankers should not be plying this road. That truck that rolled back is not supposed to be on the road in the first place. I blame the government for not doing their job. This is an avoidable incident.
“I also believe that the driver who drove that tanker was inexperienced. He would have controlled the vehicle and stopped it from entering here if he had experience. If he knew what he was doing, the truck wouldn’t have fallen.