November 29, 2023

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TRAIN, BUS COLLISION: NSIB soon to release non-punitive report/recommendation

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L-R: Eng. Olatunde Akinsanya, Director of Operations/Maintenance, Lagos State Emergency Agency, LASEMA; Mrs. Olaide Osifeso, Director of Admin and HR, LASEMA; Eng. Akin Olateru, DG, Nigerians Safety Investigation Bureau, NSIB; Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, Permanent Secretary, PS, LASEMA, and Eng. Alao Oluponmile, DGM, Engineering, NSIB during a courtesy visit by Eng Akin Olateru to LASEMA Head office, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos

The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has assured that it would release its report on the train and the Lagos State staff bus accident, which occurred in the Ikeja area of the state earlier this month.

This is as the bureau has agreed to deepen its relationships with the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on ways of enhancing safety in the rail and road sector.

Speaking during a courtesy visit to the two organizations in Lagos on Tuesday, 21st March 2023, Engr. Akin Olateru, the Director-General, NSIB, said that the investigators had begun an investigation into the causal and contributory factors of the 9th March 2023, train and bus collision in Lagos.

He explained that its report, which would be made public, would also include safety recommendations to both parties on how a recurrence could be avoided in the future.

Speaking at LASEMA, Olateru regretted the accident, which claimed 10 lives with colossal damage to the bus, but assured the Lagos State Government that its investigators would do a thorough job and come up with safety recommendations.

He, however, said that it does not impose blame on any party, but rather, issues safety recommendations on how such accidents could be prevented in the future.

L-R: Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, PS, LASEMA; Eng Akin Olateru, DG, NSIB, and Eng. Alao Oluponmile, DGM, Engineering, NSIB, at the control room of LASEMA during a courtesy visit by Eng Akin Olateru to the Agency’s Head office, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos

He explained that NSIB has well-trained 45 investigators who are deep in the investigation of rail and maritime serious incidents and accidents.

“We have 45 well-trained investigators who are well-trained in the United States, Singapore Academy, and others. So, we do what we do well. It takes time to carry out an investigation.

“But, for this, I don’t think it will take time because some of our investigators have already been trained on train and maritime investigation.

“All the accidents and serious incidents that we have investigated in the past, we made them public. There is no hiding anything, but the thing is we don’t blame anyone. We have the causal and contributory factors that would tell you why the accident happened.”

The Director-General also sought a partnership between NSIB and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, on capacity building, training, and exchange of ideas.

Earlier in his presentation, Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, the Permanent Secretary of LASEMA, showed some slides on the train-bus accident and how its agency was able to minimize the casualties.

He explained that LASEMA like in the past was swift, effective, and efficient in its response to the train-bus collision due to the various layers of information and action plan already established by the Lagos State Government.

According to him, its officials were at the scene of the accident within 10 minutes and rescue operations commenced immediately.

He sought for partnership with NSIB in the areas of training and acquisition of equipment to further increase safety in the sector.

He said: “We wish to partner with your organization. Let’s partner effectively and efficiently. You can use your money to build us up. You won’t regret it. I pioneered LASEMA in 2005 due to the bomb blast of 27th January 2002, which occurred in Lagos.

3rd left; Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, PS, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Engr. Akin Olateru, DG, Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau, NSIB, Eng. Alao Oluponmile, DGM, NSIB, and Eng. Olatunde Akinsanya, Director of Operations/Maintenance, LASEMA

Oke-Osanyintolu enthused, “Emergency has evolved over the years, we are now introducing what we call timely warning because we want to be proactive, and for us to do this, we need your organization so that there can be a form of a lesson learned from any emergency that occurs. We are very happy that you are with us”, he said

At the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC office, Olateru also reiterated that the report on the accident would be issued to the public soon and explained that the new NSIB Act of 2022 followed due process before it was enacted and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He explained that the essence of the new Act was to minimize all forms of road accidents in the country and save more lives.

Olateru said: “It is a decision of the Federal Government to do this. Before the passage of this Act, Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, was the regulator, investigator, and also service provider.

He noted that “this is a conflict of interest and in the wisdom of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2018, I made a presentation for the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for centralizing all accident investigation in Nigeria in all modes of transportation”.

In his response, Engr. Fidet Okhiria, the Managing Director, of NRC, expressed delight to work with NSIB. He explained that the coming onboard of the bureau would improve the safety of lives and equipment, while recurrence would also be prevented.

While lamenting the accident, Okhiria emphasized that the loss of lives would have been more catastrophic but, for the professional handling of the train driver.

According to him, no fewer than 1,000 passengers were onboard the train on the day of the accident, stressing that if the train driver had applied the break immediately, the train would have derailed while more lives would have been lost.

Okhiria however said that the coming of NSIB to investigate train accidents was not a threat to the organization, rather, it would serve as a boost to the rail system in the country.

The NRC helmsman said, “the coming on board of NSIB into the investigation of accidents in the rail sector will make the job of railway easier. It is a welcome development. We are willing to work with you. This is the direction of the government and we have to abide by it. We will work with them”.

He further explained that “the agency, NSIB, is not a threat to us in any way; rather, we intend to work with them to make the rail sector safer and better for everyone. This is a law of the land and everyone must obey it,” he assured.

However, NSIB, LASEMA, and NRC have agreed to set up a committee to work on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would further deepen the relationship among the organizations.

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