A 41-year-old commercial bus driver, who augments his daily income by operating as a vulcaniser by the side is also one of the victims at the Otedola Fire Accident.
The father of three and native of Osun State invests much of his energy and time into productive activities that would help put food on the table for his family.
On Thursday afternoon, while ferrying passengers in his 18-seater bus from Lagos to the Mowe/Ibafo area of neighbouring Ogun, a bigger worry was added to Olaitan’s growing list.
A speeding tanker laden with around 33, 000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit – one of the deadliest and easily combustible liquids in the world – that had lost control suddenly fell a few metres away from Otedola Bridge, a popular axis along the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, spilling its content all over the place and bursting into flames shortly afterwards.
The 41-year-old whose commercial bus was directly behind the ill-fated tanker, the moment brought a glimpse of perhaps what the end of the world would look like.
“I saw darkness everywhere immediately the tanker exploded,” he said while speaking with Saturday Beat on his hospital bed where yards of bandages now strapped him like an armour.
“I thought I was going to die. It was as if the end had come. There was commotion everywhere, just like in a war. Nothing else came to my mind.
We all believed it was the end,” he added soberly as he narrated his ordeal to his teary-eyed wife – Faidat – and other family members, who had come to check on him on Friday morning.
While attributing his narrow escape to divine grace, the Ile-Ife indigene said that for a few minutes after the tanker fell, he and others in the vehicle were confused as to what to do.
He revealed that it was while it was being argued that the content of the truck was diesel or petrol that the entire place erupted in flames. According to him, after being briefly knocked out by the sound of the explosion, he managed to regain consciousness and enough strength to force his way out of the bus through the front passenger seat. But even after exiting the vehicle, his fears were far from over.
“I jumped into a gutter full of dirty water immediately I forced my way out of the bus,” he said, slowly adjusting his sitting position on the bed. “I had hoped to use the water to quench the fire on my body but unknown to me the water had already mixed with the petrol that had spilled from the tanker. That compounded my problem.
While I was struggling to quench the fire on my body, I did not know that my head was burning. I managed to run across the road and into an uncompleted building where people around helped me put out the fire. That was my saving grace, otherwise only God knows what would have happened to me,” he stated.