Scores of commuters were subjected to trekking long distances on Wednesday morning following a multiple accident involving about five articulated vehicles on the Kara Bridge of the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway.
A speeding trailer loaded with petrol, witnesses said, caused the accident when it rammed into others, exploded and caught fire which extended to the others.
The accident, which occurred on the Lagos outbound lane of the bridge, forced several drivers to park, turning the scene into a spectacle
A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria who passed through the scene observed that some of the vehicles were still burning on the bridge.
NAN also saw officials of the Federal Fire Service making frantic efforts to put out the fire.
Also, officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) cordoned-off the area to prevent other losses; but they did not confirm the number of deaths from the accident.
NAN also observed that those trekking were people living in Ibafo, Mowe, Warewa, Prayer City area and Arepo in Ogun working or going to transact various businesses in Lagos State.
Also affected were those travelling to Lagos from other parts of Nigeria as well as those travelling outside Lagos.
The gridlock that started from the Kara Bridge, close to the popular Julius Berger Bus Stop, stretched to Asese, a few kilometres away from the Redemption Camp as at 8 a.m.
Similarly, the queue formed by the Lagos outbound vehicles had stretched from the scene to Magodo, opposite the Lagos State Secretariat complex.
Many intending passengers that had wanted to travel to Lagos were stranded at their various bus stops because majority of the commercial buses that could have conveyed them were held in the traffic.
A witness, who identified himself as Suraju Fadele, said the accident occurred at about 4 a.m.
Mr. Fadele, a butcher, said that the accident was caused by a fast moving unmarked trailer loaded with petroleum products that ran into another articulated vehicle and immediately exploded.
“I was waiting by the road side for my friend with some others to display our beef for the early morning market sales.
“Suddenly, I saw a trailer on top speed moving toward our side and passed us.
“A few metres away from us, we heard a loud explosion which made us run for dear lives, and afterwards, we saw huge billows of fire on the bridge.
“We realised that the trailer must have rammed into other articulated vehicles on the bridge because there were many of them there as at that time.
“The problem with the accident is that nobody could move near the scene because of the raging fire,’’ he said.
Another witness, who simply identified himself as Bashir, lamented the reckless and dangerous manner articulated vehicles usually drive on the road.
“What caused the accident was simply speeding. The driver of the tanker was on top speed and I wonder why such a speed.
“Before I could look ahead, he had rammed into another trailer ahead of it.
“When the trailer sped past us, we remarked that its driver was speeding and within a twinkle of an eye, we heard the loud bang followed by a raging fire.
“There was another trailer under repair on the bridge which I think was loaded with rice; the trailer must have rammed into it,” Bashir said.
The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway had witnessed similar accidents earlier in the year. On January 7, some passengers lost their lives in a similar incident.
Also, on July 21, some passengers lost their lives in an accident.
However, Julius Berger Plc, a construction company, had commenced the rehabilitation of a part of the expressway from Sagamu Interchange Bridge to the Lagos end of the defunct old toll gate around 7-Up.
Similarly, Reynold Construction Company (RCC) is handling the stretch from Sagamu Interchange Bridge to Ibadan end of the defunct toll gate.
The former President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration awarded the contracts for the rehabilitation of the road to both companies.