For a record umpteenth time, the demon of fallen tankers on the Ojuelegba bridge in Lagos reared its head yesterday when a container-laden truck ran into the side railings on the bridge but thankfully, no life was lost. However, it was a hell of traffic for hundreds of commuters trapped for several hours, as they eased their way through the limited available route.
The accident, which blocked the flow of traffic on the axis, led to a huge buildup of gridlock on the busy road down to Western Avenue. The traffic stretched down to Costain leading to diversion to inner roads by drivers and a spillover to the Third Mainland bridge.
Different containers have been involved in accidents on the bridge, the last being in April, last month when at least seven vehicles were severely damaged.
A security operative at the scene said the container had more load than its capacity, which led to its fall. “The load is too much for the body, so as it was climbing the bridge, it was rolling backwards. It is 40 feet tall,” he said.
A police officer at the location noted that there was no casualty in the incident. “This is just a minor accident,” he said.
Narrating how the container fell off the bridge, the driver said: “As I was climbing the bridge, a bus overtook me and I had to stop. When I set out after the bus left, the gear dragged me back and the container turned and fell. It is not because of the brake. There is no casualty. I was not the only one in the truck, we were three in number, but nothing happened to any of us.”
Lives were saved by the whiskers as the trunk and tyres of the truck were left hanging on the bridge railings until it was evacuated many hours after.
According to an official of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), the incident occurred at about 2:00p.m. and may have been caused by the ‘bed’ the container was resting upon, which appeared rusty. He added that such truck at their old age would not be able to climb bridges and it could have been in the process of climbing and could no longer continue that the accident occurred.
“Instead of allowing the vehicle to roll back, the driver probably swerved and the vehicle ended up hanging on the bridge wall and blocked the road.”
A man who was caught up in the traffic, Bayo Akinola, described the situation as pathetic. “We began to experience the traffic right from Stadium and we thought that it was the usual moving traffic. But after staying for over an hour at one point, we thought of looking for an alternative route but there was none. We had to continue with the snail speed whenever the traffic shifts forward a bit.
“Our vehicle eventually began overheating and we were forced to stop nearby to look for water to cool the engine. The hardship could have been avoided if the truck was in good condition and government policy adopted for heavy-duty vehicles to be moving at night was adhered to.”