Nigeria: Agencies Bicker over Agege Train Disaster

The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) has said articulated truck drivers are to be blamed for the train derailment which occurred on Thursday in the Agege area of Lagos.

Niyi Alli, NRC Director of Operations, said this at a press briefing at the scene of the incident, the rail level crossing at Agege-Ashade ram market in Mongoro.

The train, which said to be coming from Ijoko, Ogun State, and heading to Ebute-Metta, left the rail tracks around 7:15 am. Its last three coaches detached while the remaining coaches continued on its journey.

The Lagos State Management Emergency Authority (LASEMA) had in a statement issued by Kehinde Adebayo, its spokesperson, said investigations had revealed that the derailment occurred as a result of the faulty section of the track.

LASEMA’s statement added that men of the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA) had informed the appropriate authorities about the faulty track prior to the incident.

But addressing journalists, Alli said it was too early to speculate on the possible cause of the incident.

The NRC director said the train was in a good state to run on the tracks, adding that no casualty was recorded.

But contrary to the LASEMA statement which explained that “information gathered at the scene” revealed that people sustained injuries, Alli simply said all passengers who were in the affected coaches were transferred to other coaches.

He also confirmed that repair works have commenced on the affected portion of the track.

“The train is mechanically okay. There was a derailment on the level crossing. There was nobody trapped in the train and no casualty. Three coaches were affected and passengers in the three coaches were transferred into the other coaches.

“We’re currently repairing the track. It is too early to say exactly what caused the derailment. But we have had a number of issues at level crossings,” he said.

Alli claimed that the purported recklessness of heavy-duty drivers at the rail level crossing was responsible for the shift in the track’s position.

He urged the drivers of heavy-duty trucks to navigate the tracks when they approach the rail level crossing.

Alli said: “The truth of the matter is that if you are driving a heavy truck and you get to a rail level crossing, you need to be careful so you that your truck won’t destroy the track.

“We want to resume service as soon as possible so we need to do everything necessary to ensure that the track is back.”

Another witness, who gave his name as Daniel Abu, told our correspondent that many people sustained injuries as two ambulances were used to convey some victims.

“My friends and I wanted to board the first train, but we were late. So, my other friends, who had earlier went with the train, told us what happened and even sent us photographs. So, we had to alight from the train. I don’t know if anyone died but two ambulances were used to convey wounded victims,” said Abu.

He also confirmed that the track had structural default, saying; “But I know this portion of the rail track had been shaking.”

Sani Hamzat, a resident in the area attributed the accident to government negligence.

“In Nigeria, we don’t value human lives. This thing cannot happen in other countries,” said Hamzat.

“This portion has been creating traffic for more than a year. We are appealing to the government if it can close here for about two or three days and do repairs here.”

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