Traders affected by the tanker explosion that rocked the Ajegunle area of Alagbado, Lagos on Friday, have appealed to the state government to come to their aid following the destruction of their goods by the fire and the loss of money to louts.
There was pandemonium on Friday morning when a tanker laden with 45,000 litres of premium motor spirit, also known as petrol, exploded after it fell around Ajegunle bus stop, along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
The National Emergency Management Agency said the fire started at about 2:06am.
The inferno, which spread to the Toll Gate area, killed a 15-year-old boy, identified as Oluwatobi Lawal, and destroyed several shops and goods worth millions of naira.
The Chairman, Ojokoro Local Council Development Area, Hammed Tijani, said six persons who sustained varying degrees of injury were taken to a hospital.
It also affected some electric cables belonging to Ikeja Electric as some employees of the company were trying to disconnect the affected cables when our correspondent visited the area.
It was learnt that one of the traders, Sunday Olatunji, who could not stand the sight of his burning shop, was rushed to a hospital.
However, some of the affected traders, who decried their losses, said they lost large sums of money to hoodlums who took advantage of the disaster.
One of them, Mariam Isiaka, said, “At some minutes past 4am (on Friday), someone called to tell me that some people wanted to open my shop and remove the goods there to prevent the fire from destroying them. I don’t live close to the market so by the time I got to the market, they had already opened the shop and removed some of the goods but I didn’t find the money I left in the shop the previous day.
“I kept N370,000 cash in a bag in the shop but I also could not find some other money I kept in different places in the shop; it was about N100,000. The fire didn’t affect my goods but my money was stolen. However, I thank God.”
A wine seller and widow, Bola Odusanya, said she lost over N100,000 to the fire, lamenting that she had been saving the money for her child’s school fees.
Odusanya also said a freezer she bought through a loan was not spared by the fire.
“The cheapest wine in my shop cost between N25,000 and N30,000. I was told that my shop was burning and that the items inside had been burnt. When I got to the shop later in the morning, I saw that all the money, about N100,000, I kept in the shop was burnt. My child is a Higher National Diploma student and I had planned to pay her school fees on Monday but everything was consumed by the fire.
“I am a widow with four children and I have been struggling to raise them. I collected a loan from a microfinance bank to rent the shop and buy the goods. Officials from the bank came to collect part of the loan but when they came, they saw that my shop had been burnt. Even the freezer I bought was completely burnt. All the goods, including the wine and beer in my shop, were worth N1m. I am appealing to Governor (Babajide) Sanwo-Olu to help us. I struggled to raise the money to trade so I would not go into prostitution,” she added.
Another trader, Taiwo Kehinde, who said she sold bread and other items close to the scene of the explosion, lamented that her shop and goods were razed while the sum of N540,000 was allegedly stolen.
“I was expecting some goods yesterday, so I left about N500,000 in my shop. I also left about N40,000 that I made from the goods I sold yesterday in the shop but all the money is gone. My shop was opened when it was burning after the tanker exploded but I don’t know who took the money away. I am begging the state government to assist me because most of the money I use to trade was borrowed from a company,” Kehinde said.
But the Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, said the police did not receive any report about theft from affected traders.
“Many of them went to the police station and they made statements about everything that transpired. They all talked about losing goods to the fire and the worth of the goods but not one person said they lost physical cash. So, we don’t have any report on that (stealing). When we outlined what we wanted to investigate, that (stolen money) was not part of it,” Hundeyin added.