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Victims of Ogun Gas Explosion Lament

Mrs. Christiana Ogunfunminiwa could not hide her excitement as she rendered praise songs to God on Friday, December 11, 2015. The Proprietress of Noble Land Schools, Lafenwa Itele, Ogun State,
had reason to be joyful. The night before, a gas tanker had exploded in the area, destroying her school buildings and property worth millions of naira. Daily Sun learnt that about 7.30 pm that night, a gas tanker trying to negotiate its way from the Lafenwa -Itele major road through Ewu Ajasa, Ijagba to enable it offload its content at the gas station on the street, fell and exploded. A new car parked in front of the school and other belongings were destroyed in the resultant inferno. Speaking to Daily
Sun, Ogunfunminiwa noted: “I am truly happy that the explosion did not occur when my children – our students and staff – were in school. I am thanking God because no lives were lost. And I am really glad because it shows that I serve a living God. “I didn’t have any premonition that such a thing would happen. And by the time I was called that my school was burning, I knew that we didn’t leave any electrical appliances on in the school. When I was called around 7.45 pm, I saw a tanker burning. I was told it exploded and that was the reason that the school got burnt because the road it was trying to ply was right beside the school. “As at now, the loss runs into millions of naira because two building were completely razed down. Only one is standing. Even that one standing will go through 90 per cent renovation because the walls have cracked. All the students’ desk and chairs are gone with the inferno. Even the kindergartens’ educational toys and other things that I cannot readily recollect now are gone and we have to replace the different labs equipment. “Everything boils down to bad roads. Government should see to the Lafenwa Itele Road. Motorists are complaining a lot. Most of us find it difficult to take out our cars because of the bad roads. The governor had promised in his campaign that he would see to the Lafenwa Itele Road and we are still waiting for him to fulfil his promise. That incident would have been avoided if the roads are okay and the fire service would have been able to get to the scene on time. I am using this medium to appeal to Governor Amosun and his commissioner for works to come to our rescue.” Another victim, a dealer in electrical products, Mr. Afos Ojinka could not hide his emotion as he ransacked the remains of his badly burnt product inside what was left of his shop. He said he lost goods worth well over N2 million in his newly rented shop. According to him, he moved into the new shop on the ill-fated day. Said he: “I was in church when the incident happened. All I know is that I moved into the new shop on Thursday, around 3.30 pm, only to be called that the school near my shop was burning around 8pm. I rushed down only to discover that this place has burnt beyond recognition. I sell only electronics. From the estimate that I have, my loss runs into millions of naira. It’s over N2.8million. I have the report with me. I want to go and report at the police station. It also affected my wife’s shop. She is a sewing mistress. All the clothes she worked on and belonging to her customers and their materials were all burnt in the inferno. But I thank God that no lives were lost, although the owners of the gas tanker and station are on the run now. The most painful thing is that I just bought goods because of the festive season.” Although, Chinedu Okonta, who sells bags of raw food in bags beside Ojinka could not really salvage anything, he was thankful that he remained unhurt. According to him, he was outside the shop attending to a customer when the tanker fell. “Both the customer and I ran away. It was hellish. The flames seemed to be angry and ready to devour anything that night. It is my master’s shop and we have lost over N3 million because we just stocked our shop with rice, garri and beans because of the season.” On his part, Alhaji Rafiu Quadri lamented that government failed in its responsibilities to its citizenry, noting that if the bad roads had been repaired, the incident would have been avoided. “While the tanker was trying to navigate its way into the inner street, it suddenly jerked and the tank got bent. And before we knew what was happening, the tanker’s driver came out of it and was running and shouting that everyone should evacuate the place as the tanker was leaking and might explode soon. But you know, it is in the evening, and there was so much noise from shops selling CDs as well as from commercial drivers and motorbike operators. Before anyone could do anything, the explosion occurred with a terrible noise. It was after the fourth explosion that I realised that all my glass products – I am into glass cutting – had been shattered. “Most of us have gone to report at the police station. Nothing was salvaged. No one could move close to the inferno because it was so ferocious and even before the Ogun State fire service came, everything was lost. What I lost in my shop is over N500, 000. We are asking Governor Amosun to come to our aid and construct our roads in Lafenwa Itele. If the roads were good, fire service wouldn’t find it difficult to get here. And maybe we wouldn’t have lost everything,” he said. Chairman of Liberty Community Development Association (CDA) under Itele Awori area CDC, Alhaji Shuaib Ade Mohammed also maintained that the incident happened because the roads were bad. “We are appealing to the government to come to our assistance. We are grateful that the unfortunate incident did not happen during the day because the school affected would have lost so many children in the inferno. And I can say 85 per cent of people in the Lafenwa-Itele area have one or more of their children attending the Noble Land school. We are appealing to government to come and help us repair our roads. These bad roads are taking their toll on most of us in this area. “As we speak, the owner of the gas fill ing station is on the run and we are asking government to intervene so that the man can come out and compensate shop owners whose goods were destroyed by the inferno.” Speaking in the same vein, Prince Olatunji Onaolapo, Chairman Itele Awori Area Community Development Committee explained that the gas tanker ought to have Goods In Transit Insurance (GIT). He said that would have ensured compensation for those that suffered losses in the inferno. He also blamed government for not repairing the bad roads in the area. “We have been in this dilemma for long and if the roads are good, this incident would have been completely avoided. A similar incident happened in 2013 at Ayobo, which claimed more than two lives. We thank God that these incidents usually happen during the night. We have written several letters to the governor and commissioner. We want government to intervene.” He said a campaign would be launched on December 17 to solicit for funds to repair the roads temporarily. “We’ve been fixing the roads for seven years. Even the roads constructed during the administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel did not last up to four years because there was no drainage. If there is drainage, there won’t be much problem. The one at Ayetoro -Itele, we spent N4.6 million to dredge, grade and extricate. We are starting another one by the grace of God, if our people are willing to support. Already, people have become weary. Many businesses are on the verge of collapse because of lack of patronage due to bad roads. The community does its own electrification. We bought about 45 pieces of 500 KVA transformers. We are not seeing any government’s impact at all. The governor should not pay lip service to our plight. We are appealing to him to remember us in this area.”


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