No fewer than six persons yesterday died when a Lagos State government staff bus collided with an oncoming train at the PWD rail crossing located in Shogunle area of the state.
LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that the bus, number 33, was heading to Alausa from Isolo when the driver recklessly took a wrong detour at the PWD rail crossing in Shogunle, and collided with an oncoming train.
It was further gathered that the bus was conveying 85 civil servants and some dependents to their offices that morning.
Two persons were said to have died on the spot while four died in the hospital. There were 42 moderately-injured persons, 29 serious injuries and eight mild injuries. 25 people have been treated and transferred to Gbagada General Hospital, Agege General Hospital and Trauma Centre at Toll Gate.
In his reaction, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has declared three days of mourning with flags to fly at half mast, saying civil servants would work half day today.
Sanwo-Olu, who spoke at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) when he visited to assess the situation, commiserated with victims. He also cancelled all public engagements and campaigns.
Sanwo-Olu said, “This is a very sober time for us as a government, and while we acknowledge God as the giver of life, the one who determines every man’s destiny, it saddens us when we have incidents like this.
“The fatal accident happened at the rail crossing around PWD in the Shogunle area. I believe they were coming from the express way and needed a right turn, and wanted to drag over the rail. It is not yet clear what happened, but it seems like a wrong judgement by the driver. I also learnt he has turned himself to the police, and so investigations will determine what actually went wrong. We would also reach out to the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) to give their own account of what transpired, so we can have full information.
“We haven’t informed any family members yet because these are civil servants that were going to work so we cannot begin to disclose names until families have been contacted. Of the number of injured persons, 25 were treated very quickly and transferred to the Gbagada General Hospital, Agege General Hospital and the trauma centre at toll gate so this place can be decongested and proper profiling of injuries can be done.
“There will be half day of work tomorrow (today) so we can jointly mourn our staff, our loved ones, and the dead can be buried. Flags will also fly at half-mast for the next three days, and we are also declaring a three-day state mourning for the deceased.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu hailed Lagosians who joined the first responders in the search and rescue operation, saying the true spirit of Lagos must be sustained at all times. He commended the first responders, LASUTH and LASUCOM staff and security agencies for their prompt response.
“A big thank you to well -meaning Lagosians who immediately joined in rescue efforts. Our first responders and emergency services are on ground and we will share more information shortly,” he said.
The governor also hailed the governorship candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Jide Adeniran and Labour Party’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour for visiting and commiserating with the families, saying, ‘it is important to thank two of my other competitors – Mr. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour and Mr. Olajide Adeniran, who I learnt were here earlier, for their show of commitment beyond politics. I thank them for coming here.”
Sanwo-Olu, who said the state has the capacity to tackle emergencies, said investigation is ongoing and regular updates will be given as necessary. He also enjoined people to voluntarily donate blood to help LASUTH restock its blood bank.
Confirming the development, the Lagos Territorial Office Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye, said the victims were all staff of the Lagos State government.
Our correspondent, however, gathered that the driver of the bus refused to adhere to the directive of level crossing keepers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), who ordered him to stop for the coming train.
The bus belongs to the Lagos State government and was used as a staff bus for state’s employees that work at the old secretariat, GRA in Ikeja. The bus was conveying both Lagos civil servants and some judiciary staff.
A source in the NRC said, “There are level crossing keepers of NRC at that level crossing controlling train movement on the narrow gauge. We also have flagmen at that place controlling the standard gauge line. We were told that they stopped the driver from passing because of the incoming train but he refused. He thought he could pass before the train. So sad.”
In the statement, Farinloye said, “Two bodies of staff of the state government are dead and several injured, evacuated. The state government staff bus was trying to cross the PWD/Sogunle rail crossing while the train coming into Lagos from Abeokuta trapped the bus on its rail,” he said.
The Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) also confirmed the incident, saying the accident recorded many casualties as the staff bus was fully loaded with government staff going to office this morning.
The director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment department of LASTMA, Adebayo Taofiq, said, “a Lagos State Government staff bus with registration no 04A- 48LA was this morning crushed by a moving train at PWD, Ikeja area of Lagos.
Accident Distressing, Says PMB
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sympathy over the accident involving a train and Lagos State BRT staff bus yesterday at Shogunle area of Ikeja.
Reacting to the incident, President Buhari in a statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu said:
“The accident at the level crossing involving the train and the BRT staff bus is distressing and extremely sad. I pray for the souls of the deceased and quick recovery of the many who were injured.”
The President commended the Lagos State authorities and Federal Government agencies for promptly getting involved in relief work.