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4 feared dead in Jebba train crash

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Written by Maritime First
  • As Lagos water destroys houses in Ogun, displaces residents

Four passengers were feared dead in a north-bound train coming from Lagos when it derailed few meters to Jebba station in Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State. Eyewitnesses told National Mirror that the train which was on top speed lost three of its rear coaches that fell off with passengers and goods it was carrying.

The train, it further said, even with the derailment, was not able to stop at the station as it was only able to stop by the foot of the Niger bridge leaving the tracks badly damaged with the goods it was carrying littering the area.

National Mirror further gathered that the crash occurred shortly after crossing the Jebba Paper Mill level-crossing and was about to enter the station when the coaches fell off. An NRC official who said he was not authorised to speak to the press on the matter disclosed that the crash was caused by a failed brake.

According to the source, the driver of the train lost control following brake failure, derailing from the rail track into a nearby settlement culminating into the loss of two lives. The source hinted that the driver of the train managed the situation by bringing the train to an abrupt halt without the aid of a functioning brake devise. Assistant Director, Publicity, Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, Mr. Rauf Akinloye, who spoke through a subordinate confirmed the death of four passengers, adding that three others also sustained injuries. The dead, he said, had been deposited in the mortuary while the injured were treated and discharged. Also, the NRC spokesman said the damaged tracks had been repaired with a view to put it to use, while the damaged coaches would be taken to Kano for repairs.

Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed yesterday commiserated with the families of the deceased passengers

In the meantime, dwellers of Iludun community, Oke-Aro, in the Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State, say they are overwhelmed by the wastewater discharge from Adiyan Waterworks owned by the Lagos State Water Corporation.

They said no fewer than 10 houses in the community had been ravaged by the flood that resulted from high volume of the wastewater while at least 70 residents, including landlords, had been forced to relocate.

It was learnt that the flood was caused by the failure of the Lagos State Government to dredge a river in the area, which collects the water.

Residents, who spoke with PUNCH Metro, said the river was dredged last about eight years ago, making the river to overflow its bank and ravage buildings.

In a visit to the affected community on Thursday, our correspondent observed the effects of the flood in some sinking deserted houses, while a section of a drainage channel through which the water flows into the river had turned into a gully.

A landlord, Akinwale Ibikunle, whose house is located near the gully, said a child fell there sometime last year and sustained serious injuries.

“The boy should be around 10. He was taken to Igbobi Hospital in Lagos. There was also a time that one herdsman fell into the gully with his cows. He hit his head on the stone while he was struggling to rescue the cows. He was rescued, but the cows died. I learnt he died some days after.

“Some years ago, what is now a gully was an ordinary gutter that we crossed easily. We can no longer send our children on errands for fear of being trapped. We want the government to do something about it,” he said.

A resident, Azeez Ajayi, said the erosion worsened four years ago.

He said, “When I moved into Iludun 15 years ago, there was nothing like this. In fact, we don’t experience flood in the rainy season. It is the waste water that caused it and a lot of residents have been displaced. My house is always flooded. I have spent a lot of money maintaining my house because I have no other place to go.

“Hardly will the water not be released in a day. The problem became worse four years ago and we have been complaining to Lagos and Ogun states governments since then. At least, 70 persons had packed out of this community.”

A pastor, Adedeji Toluwase, of Power Reign Prayer Ministries, said membership of the church had drastically reduced as result of the development, adding that they had worshipped outside the church on many occasions.

“Last Monday, the flood brought in a big snake into my room,” he added.

Evangelist Esther Arowolo of the New Born Apostolic Church said, “Our surroundings are always submerged in water. We just rebuilt a part of the church that crumbled a few months ago. Three landlords, who were my neighbours, had vacated their houses. Several houses are sinking.”

Another affected landlord and the chairman of a committee set up to look into the disaster, Evangelist Olade Odulana, said his wife and five children had moved to another community.

He said the committee petitioned the Lagos State Water Corporation on February 2, 2015, and when there was no response, “we wrote to the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun. But things are becoming worse by the day and up to 10 houses have been destroyed.”

Odulana explained that two reminders were sent to Amosun after some officials from the state ministry of environment visited the community.

One of the reminders dated February 16, 2016, read in part, “This is to remind you sir concerning the petition and a reminder we addressed to your office about the menace in our community, which is caused by the wastewater from (Lagos State Water Corporation) Adiyan Waterworks. The worst is still happening to us despite the fact that we are in dry season.

“The river where the wastewater is channelled to is overflowing and needs dredging. Come to our aid.”

Attempts to get reactions of the Lagos State Government proved abortive as calls put across to the line of the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, rang out. He had also yet to reply to a text message sent to him since Thursday.

However, a reply from the Ogun State Ministry of Environment to the community, dated April 19, 2016, and signed by one Mr. Tunji Adenuga, stated that the Lagos State Government had started working to stem the flood.

It read in part, “This ministry has taken action on the matter by writing the Lagos State Water Corporation and the corporation has forwarded to the ministry a reply to our letter, apologising for its action and informing us of the steps taken to minimise the effect of wastewater discharge from Adiyan Waterworks.”

Adenuga confirmed the letter from the Lagos State Government to PUNCH Metro on the telephone.

“They wrote to us twice that they are working on it,” Adenuga added.

National Mirror with additional report from Punch

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Maritime First