By Evelyn Usman & Olasunkanmi Akoni
One person died when a train derailed yesterday, at Ashade Railway Crossing, Agege, Lagos, with several passengers sustaining injuries.
Lagos Railway District Manager of Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, Mr. Jerry Ochi, confirmed that the victim died at NRC Hospital, Ebute Meta, while receiving treatment.
Oche said: “Causality is one person, as at the last check with, several injured.”
The train, with over 2,000 passengers, was en route Ebute-Meta via Oshodi from Iju, when three of the coaches derailed from on reaching a degraded portion of the rail line at Agege, which was allegedly neglected by the Nigeria Railway Corporation.
It was gathered that the trapped passengers, who struggled to get out from the coaches, got injured in the process.
Eyewitnesses said those who hung on top the affected coaches sustained severe injuries as they were flung in different directions due to the impact of the accident.
One of the passengers, a pregnant woman, who identified herself as Mrs Modinat Ismaila, had bruises on her face and arms, while her five-year-old baby had a swollen jaw.
Ismaila said “I did not know how it happened because I was sleeping. I was jolted from sleep by the loud noise, by the time I opened my eyes, the whole place was in disarray, as other passengers were struggling to jump out.
“One of the men, who saw my condition, attempted to help me out through one of the openings. But as I was about carrying my child, other people shoved me out of the way, causing me to fall.
“But the Good Samaritan lifted me up and struggled his way to the entrance, where he asked me to jump out. As he was about coming out with my daughter, other passengers pushed them, causing my daughter to fall, hitting her head on the ground. But for the Good Samaritan, the injury would have been more severe.
Another passenger, Chijioke Nwadi, said: “I was inside the coach directly behind the one that derailed. It caused ours to swerve vigorously. I jumped out because I was close to the door. Fortunately for me, I only sustained bruises on my knee. I was among those who helped the trapped passengers out.
One of them was an old man. He was motionless when he was brought out. There was no phone on him to contact members of his family. Immediately the incident occurred, we started contacting our loved ones and relevant agencies to come to the aid of trapped passengers.
When Vanguard got to the scene, efforts were on to evacuate the three affected coaches.
Some personnel from various security agencies were on ground to cordon off the area, maintain law and order while the injured were rushed to hospitals in the neighbourhood for treatment.
Giving a situation report on the incident, General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Adesina Tiamiyu, said a preliminary investigation revealed that the train derailed as a result of faulty tracks.
The agency explained that the faulty tracks had been reported by men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority in the area, which was said to have been slated for engineering works later yesterday.
Adesina said LASEMA and other relevant agencies of the state government would soon have stakeholders’ meeting with the Nigeria Railway Corporation management on the way to avert future occurrence.
However, Lagos Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, Ms Khadijat Aroyewun, who described the situation as unfortunate, however, denied the allegation that they neglected the rail tracks.
She said:” Our engineers do checks on the track every day before the trains go out to ascertain the viability of the track. So no track has been neglected to be maintained. We are still investigating the accident. The report of the investigation will be made public.”
This was corroborated by the Lagos Railway District Manager of Nigerian Railway Corporation, Mr. Jerry Ochi, who said that a panel has been set up to investigate the remote cause of the crash
“A panel has been set up to investigate the remote cause of the accident to avoid future occurrence and punish if lapses or negligence observed on the part of the staff.”