Lamentation as fire entrails bridge close to Apongbon Market- Nexus News

It was a sad Wednesday for Lagos traders, who woke up to see their products under Eko bridge near the popular Apongbon Market in Lagos Island in ashes, as a result of an early morning fire.

The inferno affected some adjoining roads, thereby creating a massive traffic congestion in the area, forcing motorists to use alternative routes.

Tens of shops were burnt and goods worth several millions of naira were destroyed in the fire, which started at about 1:00.a.m.

Aside from the burnt shops and goods, some vehicles parked near the bridge were also burnt by the fire.

Although no casualty has been recorded, affected traders stated that goods worth several million kept in warehouses under the bridge were destroyed.

Eko bridge is one of the three bridges that links Lagos Island, the commercial and financial district of Lagos to the Mainland.

The fire outbreak is coming roughly three months after the burnt Lagos Airport link bridge, which took ten months to repair, was opened to traffic.

Although the cause of the fire is yet to be known at press time, it was reported that it was caused by combustible materials stored under the bridge.

An eyewitness disclosed that the fire was caused by a trader mixing combustive materials and chemicals without fire extinguishers in place.

A trader, simply known as Chukwuma, stated that the fire could be as a result of fuel stored under the bridge.

He stated that two weeks earlier, some disturbed traders complained to the market leader about the risks of having inflammable materials close to shops.

Chukwuma noted that the leaders ensured that petrol was evacuated from there.

While Chukwuma was still speaking with journalists, a group of area boys came and pulled him away, stating that he should not disclose such sensitive information.

But the Iya Oloja, Aranmoleti Esho Market, Alhaja Rukayat Adeola Balogun, stressed that the outbreak was ignited by power surge.

Some of the affected traders and shop owners have been crying over their losses.

Among them were those who sell flour in wholesale qualities, cake items, accessories, semovita and other items.

A trader identified simply as Emeka, said N15 million worth of goods were destroyed in his shop.

“l could not pick an item. I am really devastated and confused. We see street urchins (area boys ) on the ground having a field day, stealing and looting goods, and pretending to be salvaging the items. Government should quickly intervene,” he cried.

The outbreak grounded vehicular movement along Lagos island to Apongbon area of Lagos, while commuters and motorists were held in traffic for several hours.

A commuter, Mrs. Adewunyi, noted that she spent four hours on the bridge.

“ I was stuck in traffic for several hours and l couldn’t get home, nor could l go further.”

“The authority should put a diversion notice to assist motorists on the bridge,” she said.

BUT the Lagos State Emergency Agency (LASEMA) disclosed that efforts to put out the fire were slowed due to the buildings and makeshift shops surrounding the area.

According to the Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service, the fire outbreak was reported at 03:14 am and was confronted by the first set of the crew of the agency on arrival.

Director of the agency, Adeseye Margaret, stated that the intensity of the inferno badly affected Eko bridge, slowing movement along the corridor, stating that the effect of the fire was ferocious.

She said there was no reported case of injury or death while firefighting operations were still ongoing and would not end until the fire is totally put out.

As of 3:08p.m, yesterday, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Works, Aramide Adeyoye, could be heard calling for water and chemicals to be brought to the scene of the outbreak to quench the fire.

Adeyoye noted that the incident is a sad one, which was avoidable and could have been averted because bridges are not places to store goods.

She reiterated that till the bridge is rebuilt and reopened, all commuters and motorists will suffer the negative effect.

Supervisor for Environment in Lagos Island Local Council, Mr. Audu Abdulrahim, informed Newsmen that firefighters from the United Bank for Africa (UBA) swung into action to contain the fire before they were joined by Lagos State and Federal firefighters.

Abdulrahim, followed by the Special Adviser to the council chairman on Wealth Creation, Ajenifuye Owolaje, noted that officials of the council were present to support efforts at extinguishing the fire.

A water vendor, Hamisu Awal, noted that he supplied cans of water for over two hours to help in extinguishing the fire, but to no avail.

Also, a worker of LASEMA while taking part in the operation, fainted and was rushed to the hospital.

Speaking with Journalists, NEMA South-West Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye, said: “This incident is impacting and will further impact on the normal life of Lagosians entirely.

“It was reported around 6:00 a.m., but we learnt that it started around 1:00 a.m. I think they were trying to contain it on their own before it got out of control.

“We don’t know the cause of the fire, but definitely, they did not consider safety issues with the way they stockpiled containers, and it’s a major impediment for us to tackle it, we cannot even access the source of the fire.”

Reacting to the challenges, Farinloye said: with the location of the containers and the type of containerised shops, there is no space to access the scene and the whole environment is congested, and the most dangerous one is the lack of fire hydrants around the scene.

“This afternoon (yesterday), we had another fire outbreak at the Marine bridge and it was put out after two hours. I urge that we need to be more safety-conscious,” he said.

He stated that no casualty had been recorded, and gave the assurance that enough security measures were being taken to stop hoodlums from exploiting the situation to foment trouble.

“As of now, we have taken control of the whole situation, the boys (area boys) have been managed, and I just asked for more deployment of policemen,” he said.

The zonal coordinator decried the safety of the bridge; hence the closure for the integrity test.

He noted that there was no fire on top of the bridge but said that interventions by experts were to avert the fire from spreading to buildings or causing havoc.

Read Also: Anambra finances in bad shape, Soludo bewails, says Obiano left N109b debt behind 

While the rescue operation was on, many could not access Lagos Island with long traffic gridlock. As a result, going into Lagos by vehicles was almost impossible with many relying on motorcycles to access and leave Lagos Island.

A trader in the market, Alhaji Ahmed Jide Lawal said: “I got to the National Theatre at about 6:30a.m, I had to go back to Orile, before going to Costain to park my car. “No movement and the only means to get to Apongbon was by motorcycle,” he said.

Quite a number of the traders whose shops were closed to the scene of the fire incidents either locked their shops to customers or partially opened without showcasing their wares. Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr Tayo Bamgbose-Martins, noted that the rescue operation was slow in containing the fire despite the long hours committed because of the inaccessibility of the fire point.

He maintained that this was due to the various trading activities going on under the bridge, which slowed the movement of the personnel.

MEANWHILE, the Federal Government has begun an immediate assessment of the damaged bridge.

The Federal Controller of Works in Lagos State, Olukayode Popoola, stated that the bridge would be close down for immediate integrity test after a joint inspection to be conducted by a team of engineers from the Federal Ministry of Works and a team from Lagos State Ministry of Works, at 3.00 p.m.

Also, the Federal and Lagos State Government has issued all occupants trading and living under bridges across Lagos to vacate in seven days, else they would be forcefully evacuated.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who said this at the spot of the Apongbon Fire incident, stated that anyone who failed to leave by March 31 would be arrested and made to pay for the eviction efforts.

Represented by the Director, Highways, Bridges and Designs, Oluropo Oyetade, the Minister noted that the Federal Government spent a huge sum of money to repair bridges that are being endangered by unlawful occupants.

According to him, the eviction of all illegal occupants under bridges across Lagos would be done in conjunction with the Lagos State government.

He disclosed that there was ongoing discussion to evacuate those trading and living under bridges before the fire outbreak.

“If not for the illegal occupants, this incident would not have occurred and the government cannot continue to invest in such a disaster. There is a plan to eject all illegal occupants of bridges across Nigeria, like that of Lagos, and they have been given seven days to leave,” he added.

1 thought on “Lamentation as fire entrails bridge close to Apongbon Market- Nexus News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *