The Federal Government says it will begin immediate assessment of damage caused by an early morning fire under Apongbon Bridge, Lagos, still raging as at the time of this report.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondents who visited the scene on Wednesday, report that Lagos State and federal fire fighters were battling to stop the fire which cause is yet to be identified.
The officials used fire hose to spray fire dousing chemicals on top of the bridge while they passed other hoses with water and other fire extinguishers to the bottom of the bridge.
Sympathisers joined in efforts under the bridge, using buckets of water and sand to tackle the fire spreading between shops.
Mr Ibrahim Farinloye, South West Zonal Coordinator, National Emergency Management Agency, told NAN that the agency got a distress call about 6.00 a.m. and was able to immediately take control of the traffic situation.
Farinloye said it was difficult for the fire fighters to access the actual location of the fire under the bridge, as they battled it on all sides.
He said that no casualty had been reported, and gave the assurance that adequate security measures were being taken to prevent hoodlums from exploiting the situation to forment trouble.
“As of now, we have taken control of the whole situation, the boys (area boys) have been managed, and I just asked for more deployment of policemen,” he said.
The zonal coordinator also raised fears about the safety of the bridge; hence the closure for integrity tests.
He said that there was no fire on top of the bridge but noted that interventions on it by experts was to prevent the fire from spreading to buildings or wrecking havoc.
The Supervisor for Environment, Lagos Island Local Government, Mr Audu Abdulrahim, said that the United Bank for Africa swung into action to tackle the fire before being joined by Lagos State and federal fire fighters.
Abdulrahim, accompanied by the Special Adviser to the council chairman on Wealth Creation, Mr Ajenifuye Owolaje, said that officials of the council were on ground to support in fighting the fire which was reported at 1.00 a.m.
A trader, who simply identified himself as Chukwuma, sobbing profusely, told journalists that the fire might have been caused by petrol stored under the bridge.
He said that two weeks earlier, some concerned traders complained to the market leadership of the dangers flammable materials posed to safety of shops.
Chukwuma said that the leaders ensured that petrol was removed from there then.
While Chukwuma was still talking with journalists, a group of rough-looking young men dragged him away, saying that he should not divulge such sensitive information.
A water vendor, Mr Hamisu Awal, told NAN that he supplied cans of water for more than two hours to help in extinguishibg the fire, but to no avail.
The Federal Controller of Works in Lagos State, Mr Olukayode Popoola, told NAN on telephone that officials of the Federal Ministry of Works were at the scene.
Popoola said that the bridge would be shut for immediate integrity tests after a joint inspection to be conducted by a team of engineers from Federal Ministry of Works and a team fron Lagos State Ministry of Works, at 3.00 p.m.
“Our engineers are already there working and I am coming there with Lagos State officials by 3.00 p.m. today.
“We will shut the bridge for integrity tests,” he said.