Tragedy struck on Monday on the Funsho Williams Avenue bypass, Surulere, Lagos State, after a yet-to-be identified soldier was crushed to death by a LAGBUS, one of the buses in the state mass transit scheme.
Commuters plying the bridge could not help but watch in horror as the mangled body of the soldier was cut into two by the bus.
Eyewitnesses said the victim, who was riding a motorcycle, was also carrying a woman on the back seat. The passenger was reportedly flung away by the impact of the collision.
She was said to be in a critical condition and had been taken to an unknown hospital in the state.
It was further learnt that the bus driver, after seeing the extent of the damage, removed his uniform and fled the scene.
The vehicle passengers also took to their heels to avoid reprisals by soldiers.
A mechanic, Taiwo Akindele, said the accident was caused by the bad state of the bridge.
He said, “The accident happened around 7.30am. It involved a red LAGBUS with number ‘30’ written on the body. It did not have a number plate.
“The driver was on top speed, not knowing the bridge was dilapidated. As he approached a bad spot on the bridge, the vehicle began to swerve dangerously towards the left of the bridge.
“But the driver turned the steering and the soldier, who was on a motorcycle, was pinned to the railing of the bridge. As the bus driver strived to control it, the bus dragged the soldier and cut through his bowel. He died on the spot.”
Akindele added that other soldiers arrived at the scene around 10am, while their presence caused panic in the area.
A Lagos State ambulance, which came to evacuate the deceased, was reportedly chased away by the angry soldiers.
A source said, “The whole place was filled with heavy military presence. Everybody was afraid. The soldiers later called in their own vehicle to carry the corpse. They were armed and looked menacing.”
He said the accident also drew the presence of members of the Federal Road Safety Corps and policemen.
A trader under the bridge told our correspondent that there had been four of such accidents within a space of three months due to the condition of the bridge.
Our correspondent observed that two connecting slabs of the bridge were almost pulling apart which usually forced drivers to move slowly when they got to the point.
Around 2pm, another tragedy was averted when a petrol tanker belonging to AP, and marked XA 273 AUG, broke down after the driver’s compartment caved in.
The driver had applied the brake when the incident happened. He was however able to escape without much injuries.
A resident who pleaded anonymity said, “This is not the first time we will be witnessing accidents here. We all are afraid for our lives.”
Another resident, Biodun Falola pleaded with the government to do something about the bridge which had become a death trap.
The Managing Director of LAGBUS, Mr. Babatunde Disu, confirmed the incident to our correspondent on the telephone, adding that the driver had been handed over to the police.
He said, “He only ran away as a safety precaution. We have since handed him over to the police for further investigations.”
The Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, when contacted, said she was in a meeting and would get back to our correspondent.