In four years, rivers along major roads in Ogun State have ‘consumed’ no fewer than 50 travellers, findings by DAILY POST have shown.
The affected travellers had their journey aborted inside the waters in Ogun State the moment their vehicles plunged into the various rivers.
Findings by our correspondent confirmed that over 95 percent of such crashes occurred along the Lagos-Benin highway.
The Lagos-Benin highway is a route that spanned from Lagos down to Sagamu, Ijebu-Ode, Ore, Benin down to Delta.
It is the road that links the commercial hub of Lagos with the South-South, the South-East and other parts of the nation.
The road, which has Ogun as its longest corridor, is always busy with vehicles of different capacities, moving inbound and outbound Lagos.
It was gathered that only a few of those trapped in the submerged vehicles were rescued, while the majority died before help could locate them under the water.
One of the victims of such crashes was a renowned Mass Communication Professor at the Lagos State University (LASU), Lai Oso, who died on June 24, 2023.
Oso died after his car plunged into a river along the Ijebu axis of Ogun State. The driver of Oso’s vehicle was said to have dozed off on the wheel and the vehicle skidded off the Sagamu-Ore highway to plunge into the water.
It was gathered that Oso, a Mass Communication lecturer in various institutions, was sitting in the front with the driver, while three other persons were at the back.
Oso and the deceased driver could not escape death because they had fastened their seat belts and it was difficult for them to free themselves and get out of the sport utility vehicle. They both died, while those at the back seat survived, it was learnt.
Motorists, who spoke with DAILY POST, did not rule out the fact that there might be vehicles that had plunged into the water at night or at a time no one could be of help.
The last vehicle that plunged into the Omo river on September 3 in Ijebu East after that of Oso was witnessed by an individual, who raced to inform the Federal Road Safety Corps in Ogbere.
Responders immediately took necessary actions to rescue the occupants of the ill-fated Sienna bus.
Local divers began searching in earnest and one person was rescued alive.
However, seven dead bodies were recovered from the river within four days.
The Sienna bus, marked APP830HX, had fallen into the river from the bridge due to overspeeding.
The FRSC blamed the incident on reckless driving. Ogun FRSC Sector Commander, Anthony Uga, described the crash as an avoidable one if caution had been applied by the driver.
Earlier in September 2019, Tajudeen Oropo, a senior member of staff of the then Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE), Omu in Ogun State had his car plunge into the Ososa river.
A lecturer of TASCE told our correspondent that Oropo had been complaining of being financially handicapped as he was unable to pay his children’s school fees and take care of his home, saying “he might have plunged into the river being in deep thought.”
The Federal Road Safety Corps, Ogun State Command, confirmed that Oropo’s vehicle catapulted into the river when the lone occupant lost control.
Oropo’s vehicle, a black coloured Honda Civic with registration number EPE892CV, was recovered from underneath the river, while his body was found by local divers days later.
A few days later, 10 travellers reportedly lost their lives when a commercial Toyota Sienna plunged into the same Ososa river on the Sagamu-Ijebu-Ode-Benin highway, in the Odogbolu Local Government Area of Ogun.
The bus had loaded its passengers from Sagamu and headed for Ijebu-Ode when the tragic incident occurred.
The FRSC spokesperson in Ogun, Florence Okpe stated that the crash occurred when the driver of the bus attempted to overtake another vehicle on the bridge; unfortunately, it lost control due to a tyre burst.
Till date, neither the vehicle nor any of its 10 occupants had been recovered by local divers.
Two months before then, it was reported by the FRSC that three persons had died when a commercial bus plunged into the same Ososa river.
The incident, FRSC said, was due to mechanical deficiency which resulted in loss of control of the vehicle by the driver of the yellow-coloured Mazda E220 commercial bus from Ijebu-Ode Motor park to Lagos.
In April 2019, a woman died the moment the Lexus SUV she drove flipped into the river on the Ijebu-Ode/Benin highway, injuring her daughter.
The Public Relations Officer of Ogun Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE), Babatunde Akinbiyi, confirmed that the accident was caused by overspeeding.
One of the highest casualty figures was recorded on January 28, 2020 when 15 persons died and 38 others sustained injuries in a fatal accident at the Omi River, Ajegunle Bridge, along the Ibadan/Ijebu-Ode highway.
A white Mitsubishi truck with registration number XE331MKA, from Sokoto State, reportedly veered off the road and crashed into the Omi River along the road.
According to the FRSC, the driver of the truck with overloaded passengers had suffered fatigue, adding that the vehicle veered off the road at the narrow side of the bridge and fell inside the river.
Likewise, no fewer than four persons died in similar circumstances on July 21, 2020, after a vehicle going towards Ijebu-Ode fell into Ososa River around 10:20 am.
The lone accident involved a commercial Opel car with registration number, GGE 596 DV.
Two women were said to have given up the ghost when they landed in a swampy ditch in December 2020.
The vehicle conveying them had skidded off the road and dropped into a swampy ditch at Fidiwo axis of Lagos-Ibadan highway, inbound Lagos.
It was gathered that the vehicle, a Sharon space bus with registration number, YEE 202XA, was at high speed, causing the driver to lose control.
Our correspondent gathered that a truck veered into a river at Toll-gate in May 2021, along the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway. Fortunately, the driver and the motor boy were rescued alive.
In October 2021, one person was reported dead as a truck dragged a car into a river at Iju Bridge along the Ota-Idiroko road, Atan, Ogun State.
The State TRACE corps blamed the accident on brake failure on the part of the Isuzu truck, marked XV 229 EPE, “which eventually hit the Toyota RAV 4 and dragged it into the river.”
According to TRACE spokesperson, Babatunde Akinbiyi, the driver of the car died in the accident.
Also, a Dangote truck loaded with bags of cement had in November 2021, swerved into Ososa River along the Sagamu-Benin highway.
The driver lost control as a result of overspeeding. Ogun FRSC spokesperson, Florence Okpe said one dead person was evacuated from the river.
Barely 48 hours after the Dangote truck incident, another vehicle plunged into the same Ososa River. One person was injured; unfortunately, two deaths were recorded.
The FRSC stated that a Toyota Camry registered as SMK-08HK, and Lexus RX 330 with number plate MUS-370GV, were involved, adding that it was caused by overspeeding, which led to rear collision.
In July 2022, a man was confirmed dead after a truck reportedly hit him before it plunged into a river at the old toll gate, Ota, on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway way in the Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State. The incident reportedly occurred at night after the driver lost control due to brake failure.
FRSC identifies causes, blames drivers
Okpe, the FRSC spokesperson in Ogun State has identified some of the causes of the crashes. According to her, most of the bridges are not fully protected with guard rails. Okpe stated that some were built with the barriers, but the rails are now damaged.
Also, the FRSC spokesperson blamed drivers for their refusal to observe safety precautions, as they engage in overtaking and overspeeding on the bridges.
“If you observe carefully, you will discover that most bridges along the expressway are not fully protected with guard rails and some were built but damaged.
“Secondly, being an expressway with high vehicular movement, some motorists do not observe safety precautions. They engage in overtaking and overspeeding, which are not allowed on a bridge,” she stated.
Speaking on the way out, she submitted that motorists must “drive cautiously, obey traffic rules and regulations, observe safety signs and drive defensively; that is- driving yourself and others.”
Rivers may be in need of sacrifices –Traditionalist says
Speaking on the incident, a traditionalist, Sule Anigboro, told our correspondent that the rivers may need to be appeased.
Anigboro, a herbalist in Remo, called on elders and traditional rulers to take action.
- Revisiting Oshoffa’s Decisions Towards Boosting Clergy’s Welfare In CCC
- Gov. Abiodun Forbids Parents From Paying Fees To Any School In Ogun
- Nigerian Music Industry Mourns As Prominent Artist, Mohbad Dies At 27
According to him, there may be the need to appease the gods and spirits in the rivers by offering sacrifices, saying there might be more to vehicles plunging into the rivers than meets the eye.
“The rivers might be requesting something and the refusal to do it could be the reason vehicles plunge into them.
“Our fathers worshipped these waters in the olden days, but if this doesn’t happen again, they may get angry. Those things of the past are still in existence. We have some spirits that operate only at night,” the traditionalist said.
Drivers should be blamed – TRACE PRO
The PRO of Ogun State traffic agency, Akinbiyi said drivers should be blamed for the majority of vehicles that had crashed into rivers on the highways across Ogun State.
Akinbiyi highlighted that road crashes could be caused by human factors that have to do with the drivers, mechanical factors that could be from the vehicles and environmental factors that have to do with the conditions of the road.
“Out of these three, the factor that stands as tall as an Iroko tree is the man, because the man is in charge of other factors that also cause crashes.
“Before you start piloting the vehicle, are you psychological, mentally, emotionally, physically balanced? If you are not, that means you are also a crash waiting for somewhere to happen,” Akinbiyi said in an interview.
According to him, people are expected to drive according to the conditions of the roads.
“Some drivers don’t slow down when approaching the bridges. The last bus that plunged into the river must have approached that bridge at a speed he could not control. This could have caused loss of control that swerved the vehicle somewhere else.
“Our tyres too are another problem. People use second-hand tyres yet they speed. Once the tyres can’t have a firm grip on the road, it is a problem. Also, when you overload your vehicle, it will never be balanced.
“Yes, some of the bridges may need some repairs and maintenance, but if you navigate that axis with minimal speed, with a common sense speed limit, we won’t be talking about the fatalities that we are talking about.
“We know some of the barriers are already worn out, some have given way. That’s where the government should come in; but it still has to do with the fact that the driver should avoid reckless driving,” he added.
Akinbiyi advised people not to drive long distances on a road they are not familiar with, especially at night or in the early morning of the day.
He mentioned that people driving from the South-South and South-East usually get fatigued the moment they navigate to the Ijebu-Ode-Sagamu axis of the highway, asking drivers to always take enough rest.
Akinbiyi said people in traffic management do not believe in offering sacrifices to rivers.
He called for attitudinal change on the path of drivers, stressing that is the only way to stop vehicles from plunging into the rivers and to ensure safety on all other roads.
Government has nothing to do with overspeeding – CPS
Contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun, Lekan Adeniran, told our correspondent that the government has nothing to do with overspeeding.
“Government has nothing to do with over-speeding. How do you caution people driving? You know you cannot put speed breakers on the expressway.
“But I will help you get in touch with the Works Ministry (so that they can talk) on the barriers,” he said briefly in a phone conversation.