Thursday March 9, 2023 was a sad day in Lagos. As early as 745am there was a breaking news which shook many Lagosians to their marrow, especially families of Lagos State Staff members. The tragic incident of a train colliding with a government owned bus that had Lagos state staff members going to office was announced.
The incident which happened around PWD bus stop saw many of the passengers feared dead while some have sustained various level of injuries was nothing short of an avoidable ghastly train accident. This incident happened less than 24 hours after Akere market fire outbreak
The train and bus accident involved a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) loaded with Lagos state government staff member and a commercial train belonging to Nigeria Railway corporation. The BRT driver was said to be crossing the rail on its way to through to Ikeja GRA to link Lagos state Secretariat when the collision happened. The cause of the accident according to Dr Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu., Permanent Secretary of Lagos State Emergency Management Authority(LASEMA) “Investigation gathered revealed that the immediate cause of the incident was due to reckless driving on the part of the BRT bus driver while trying to beat the train traffic signal before the moving train rammed into the BRT bus.”.
Up till this morning, about six people had been confirmed died among the 85 passengers in the BRT bus while many are still critically wounded.
Official rhetoric’s and real concern for the governed
As would be expected, Lagos Sate government among other government agencies had stated making official statements. Lagos state government and its agencies had issued statement commiserating with families of the deceased as well as sent out appeal for blood donation. In some social; media posting, many officials of Lagos state had been sending e-candle light as a form of expressing their condolences to families of departed colleagues as well as those who are injured.
One thing though that one needs to note is that Officials of LASEMA and other Emergency Agencies were there as soon as possible, But one wonders how much could they had done in saving lives if they had all the infrastructure required and can work at the speed of light as we usually seen in rescue efforts by advanced country?
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, through his Special Assistant of public Affairs, James Odaudu has also directed the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau experts to commence immediate investigation into the accident. The Minister described the accident “As unfortunate, and assured the public of the capacity of the Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the accident and proffer ways of preventing such in the future”.
On his part, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, aside from his condolence message which sympathised with victims of the Ikeja accident involving Lagos Staff bus also ordered immediate investigation of the cause of the accident. Sambo in his directive said “I ordered an immediate and full investigation into the unfortunate incident involving a Nigerian Railway Corporation passenger train and a Lagos State Government staff bus that was conveying workers to their offices in the Shogunle area of Lagos State.”. This directive is believed to be enforced as he Nigerian Railway Police command is confirmed to have effectively taken over the investigation into the incident.
While we are still waiting for the real cause of the train/bus accident that happened yesterday at PWD bus stop in Shogunle Lagos, if going by the LASEMA Permanent Secretary’s position on the cause, is it possible if all precautions had been taken will the accident and loss of life haven been prevented?
What if there is a mandatory psychological test/fit for all the drivers that are driving most public and government’s cars, buses etc and there is a constant briefing that it is not appropriate to take chances with lives of the passengers in their care? What if there is check every morning the driver comes to resume to check psychological fits of the driver to drive that very day to work especially given the myriads of challenges many go through today in Nigeria
What if there has been traffic light at that intersection where buses, cars are crossing the rail along Ikeja axis or there is a barricade installed to block cars, buses from crossing the rail as soon as a train is in sight as the case used to be in the early days of introduction of rail system in Nigeria?
Beyond condolence messages and setting up investigation committees, governments, its agencies and passengers must become active stakeholders in motoring, transportation in a metropolitan city like Lagos if we must prevent needless loss of lives in Nigeria.
‘Political appearances’ in a sad event
As we know, the governorship and house of assembly elections across Nigeria are around the corner. This election which should have held this Saturday had been postponed by a week due to Independent National Electoral Commission’s(INEC) need to back up its information. As expected Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos state had visited the injured, some of whom are in Lagos State University Teaching Hospital(LASUTH) in Ikeja and in Gbagada general hospital as reported.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who visited the hospital, said “two persons died at the scene of the accident and four at the hospital” Sanwo-Olu gave the figure of passengers in the bus when he said “85 passengers were involved in all, 42 with moderate injuries, 29 with serious injuries while eight have mild injuries”.
Other two leading governorship aspirants: The Labour Party (LP)’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour known as GRV and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Olajide Adediran aka Jandor had also visited the injured victims at the hospital.
While it is expedient to show care to people one aspires to govern, many incidents in the state in the past couple of months which warranted such visit had been ignored due to what some of them considered as busy schedules.
In all can we stop needless causalities by taking preventive measures instead of reactionary measures? Fatal train accidents had occurred in the past in Nigeria the latest being in December 2022 when a train from Kaduna crushed a middle age woman in Kubwa Abuja
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