A swarm of people, mainly women and school children, threw caution to the wind recently in Lagos and invaded the scene of an inferno involving a petroleum tanker to scoop fuels from the destroyed petroleum tanker.
They were mainly residents of the an estate located in the Mile 2 area of a major express road leading to the NigeriaÃs major port, the Port of Lagos Apapa Quay.
The residents numbering over 100 thronged the scene of the incident with buckets, jerry cans and basins as early as 8am, milking petroleum products from the destroyed tanker.
Despite the inferno earlier, and the number of people that has lost their lives in subsequent incidents, the scene became a beehive of activities giving a flash back to several petroleum products infernos, especially the latest Abule-egba incidents that left hundreds dead
One of the residents who was also neck deep in the scooping business admitted he was taking risk, but said that the risk is worth taking especially in the face of hunger and deprivation .
He said: ” I admit I am taking a big risk, but I will sell this diesel and feed from there”.
Another resident who declined to be named blamed rush for fuel by residents on bad government and swore to deal with any law enforcement officer who comes around to disturb his business of the day.
“We are scooping fuel to assist ourselves. The people in government have stolen more than this and goes about freely. What you see on the pages of newspaper is enough to destroy this country. If any police or army personnel comes around here, we will pour this product on them,” he noted.
The tanker laden with 33,000 litres of Automated Gas Oil (AGO) near the popular Mile 2 area of the main expresses road, leading to the main sea port, the Port of Lagos Apapa Qauy.
Though, no life was lost, 11 vehicles, including nine trucks, a bus and a Honda car were also burnt to ashes.
The nine trucks and the bus were displayed for sale in front of soft drinks company while the Honda car with registration No. MQ 323 KJA belonged to a man who was said to have caused the accident that led to the inferno.
Daily Sun gathered that the driver of the tanker with registration number XA 118 KEK, belonging to Best Oil, lost control before it fell.
The tanker, which contained diesel product was said to have loaded at the main loading terminal for Independent marketers in the Apapa and was heading towards Oshodi area, also in Lagos when the incident.
Witnesses said that the inferno could have been prevented if the driver of the Honda car which was coming behind the tanker had obeyed instruction from the officials of the Lagos State Tramsport Management Authority (LASTMA) who tried to flag him down and warn him to drive with caution.
The driver was said to have ignored the LASTMA officials but as he tried to speed past the fallen tanker, the engine of his car was engulfed by fire which later affected the tanker.
Passer bys disclosed that the occupants of the tanker had already alighted and were standing by the road side before it was gutted by fire.
Efforts made by LASTMA officials to bring firefighters to put off the fire before its escalation failed as their presence was not felt for more than two hour after the fire started.
Some residents of an estate and staff of companies located in the area also made efforts to put off the fire but to no avail.
However, the Lagos State Fire service from State’as capital in Ikeja later arrived at about 4.49 pm, 45minutes after the inferno started, while two Jeeps loaded with anti- riot police men arrived also arrived the scene to forstall any breakdown of law and order.
The anti-riot police team was lead by Mr. Habila Joshak, the Commander of the Area E section of the Nigeria Police in Lagos.
Another fire vehicle belonging to a private firm, Central Fire Ibafon, in the Olodi- Apapa area of Lagos, also joined team of fighters already fighting the fire at about 4.57 pm.
However, the Lagos State Fire Service exhausted the water in their tank within 20 minutes of their arriving the scene.
Joshak had described the response of the Fire fighters as slow but gave reasons for their late arrival, which according to him, included lack of water, petrol, far distance and traffic.
An official of LASTMA, R. Gbolahan said that he contacted the fire fighters as soon as the fire started and regretted that they were not there on time.
An eyewitness, Dibia Emenataobi, who claimed to be in the area when the incident occured described as disappointing, the absence of fire fighters at the scene.
Seyi Aremo, a fashion designer said: “I called the Federal Fire Service, Festac, but was shocked when the officer who picked my call said there was no water in the truck and that I should try the Surulere Fire Service.”