At about 8:15 pm yesterday, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, motorists, commercial bus drivers and residents alike who use the popular Ojuelegba Bridge and its surroundings to eke out a living were going about their daily activities. While some were returning to their various homes, others were hustling to make the most out of the remainder of day before finally resting their heads in their shelters.
Among these set of people was a commercial bus driver, Fatai Rasaq popularly known as Aro and a few other residents who breathe their last air as a result of a horrific accident that occurred at the Ojuelegba Bridge, Surulere, Lagos Mainland.
InsideMainland exclusively gathered that the accident which instantly claimed the lives of three persons occurred after a truck conveying plywood and other items tilted on the bridge, spilling its content in the process. At the time of the accident, the fully loaded truck was ascending the Ojuelegba Bridge inwards Fadeyi.
It was learnt that immediately the truck carrying boards and plywood lost balance on the bridge, the contents fell on a danfo commercial bus filled with passengers and another Toyota Salon car just under the bridge. Upon realizing the extent of his damage, the truck driver immediately fled the scene.
Due to the impact of the fall, the danfo driver, Fatai Rasaq and two other passengers died on the spot. Some other passengers of the bus sustained serious injuries and were immediately rushed to different hospitals for urgent medical care. In addition, the driver and passenger of the Toyota salon car marked with a tag from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) were said to have escaped the scare as they ran out of the car unscathed.
Narrating the incident, an eyewitness, Lady Smart popularly known as Iyalaje told InsideMainland that; “I was seated directly in front of Union Bank where I just bought food from a vendor to have dinner. The truck driver was driving on the bridge towards Fadeyi when we heard a loud bang.
“The sound caught the attention of everyone around and people ran for safety oblivious of what had happened right under our eyes. It was a few seconds later that we heard cries of people who were trapped under the plywood which fell off the truck driving on top of the bridge,” she said.
On what led to the accident, she attributed the cause to the truck being overloaded which led to it losing balance on the bridge. “The truck driver was driving an overloaded truck on a bridge that had people also driving under it. If he had carried the normal weight, the contents would only have fallen on the bridge,” she said.
Moments after the incident, a distress call was made to the rescue team of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) who mobilized to the scene to tend to the victims.
It was also gathered that the truck and salon car involved in the accident were towed to a location in Iponri under the supervision of the LASEMA rescue operators.
Meanwhile, the conductor of the danfo bus, Akeem Alabi who only survived the crash because he was seeking lower naira denominations said the incident was unexplainable. “I can’t say anything. How do I explain that my driver was killed by plywood and planks,” he muttered.
Other sources also noted that the casualties involved in the accident were more than three as some passengers and road involved in the accident died after they were rushed from the scene for medical care.
A resident, Mrs Bisiriyu told InsideMainland that “those that died were already more than three before I returned home last night. Two bodies were deposited at the Yaba Mortuary and people who rushed survivors to Iganmu hospital said two others passed on while there.”
The Danfo driver’s last moments
Sources close to the driver told InsideMainland that he was easy going and only returned from a mosque around the scene to work briefly for the night before the incident.
According to Oloye Jibola, a friend of the deceased who also operates as a danfo driver from Ojuelegba, the victim is the breadwinner of his family and has a child who just clocked one. “The incident happened not long after he returned from the mosque. He already he was heading home to spend time with his wife and baby after concluding the trip but he didn’t know that was his last,” he said.
Isikalu Omomide said those at the mosque where the late driver, Fatai Rasaq had his last prayer were thrown into major confusion on hearing of the incident. “He buys five litres of petrol for the mosque daily when he goes for his Ishai prayers. When the people there heard, they rushed here wishing they could bring him back to life.”
The morning after the horrific incident
Hours after the incident occurred, residents and business owners in the axis were already going about their daily activities except for a few who share a close bond with the driver and his union.
In addition, street urchins were seen carting away some remnants of the plywood and boards left at the scene of the incident. Also, shops were locked to commiserate with the family of the deceased.
Meanwhile, some others gathered in clusters to discuss the incident as the relatives of those concerned make plans to bury the deceased.
At the time of InsideMainland’s visit to the scene, the security operatives from the Area C Police Command, Barracks, Lagos Mainland led by its Divisional Police Officer, Jimoh Jabaje were at the scene ensuring there was normalcy in the area.