A 49-year-old Nigerian, Mr. Adekunle Adeyemo, has spoken of how he lost assembled cars in his car dealership business.
Adeyemo is the owner of a car dealership that was consumed in the explosion of a tanker truck on the Lagos-Ibadan highway on 7 November. In this interview, he tells TOBI AWORINDE how the incident has affected his livelihood.
your Business was affected by the recent fire at the Kara bus stop, along the Lagos-Ibadan highway. How bad was it?
I am the owner of this place, Oriowo International Ltd. I had 14 vehicles that were burned in the fire. He had two second-hand buses, a Mazda and a Hyundai; four Mazda Tokunbo cars; two Toyota Picnic minivans; two Toyota Corollas; and two Mazda trucks. The value of all cars is N32m. I am still in the process of recovering from the loss. As I am, I have lost my memory. Little by little I am trying to regain my memory and go back to my old self. I don’t know how Nigerians can help me. This money is not even mine. I got the cars with loans from the bank and the cooperative society. I raised all the money to buy the cars from Europe and the United States of America.
Did you also get cars from Cotonou, Republic of Benin?
I didn’t get cars from Cotonou. I got them directly from the United States, Belgium and Germany.
What day did the fire occur?
It was November 7, 2020. I got a call at home in Magboro, Ogun State at 1.45 am. I saw the call from a strange number and I said, ‘Who is it?’ It turned out to be one of my boys who spends the night in the lot. In fact, his phone was burned in the fire; it was God who saved him. He was on one of the buses when the explosion occurred shortly after 1 a.m. Before he could recover, it was 1.45 am. I arrived here at 2.10 am. I saw everything on fire.
Was it an oil tanker that exploded?
Yes. The motorist and the driver were killed instantly. I saw the bodies. We took the bodies after the fire went out. They were burned beyond recognition. We only know that it was two people.
How long have you sold cars in Kara?
I’ve been here for almost eight years.
Do you have insurance?
I do not have insurance.
Do you have family?
I make. I have a wife and three children. My mother is over 90 years old. I have other extended family members whom I care for. The two widely used were commercial vehicles. Those are the ones I used to take care of my family. When the drivers finished for the day, I would ask them to park them in the parking lot for the night, until the next morning. Both were gutted in the fire.
Since then, how have you been doing it?
It is my friend who has been helping me.
Has all debris been removed from the roadside?
Yes, they have all been collected and sold as scraps. I know that the environmental protection agency has removed all the waste and sold the vehicles for 50,000 naira each.
How much did you earn weekly or monthly?
Some months, you could sell two or three vehicles; some months it would sell four. Vehicles vary in price. Mazda buses would be around N3.5m. Toyota Camrys would have around N2.2m. The Mazda pickup would be around N2.7m.
Were there other vehicles that were not burned?
No. All the cars were burned.
Before, did you consider the risk of being so close to the highway?
I did not think on that. I had no idea something like this would happen.
Will you return to the same place?
No. That is why I have arranged the lot so that it is meters from the area where the vehicles used to park. I have moved further away from the road. It wasn’t that far from the road before.
Here are two buses that do not burn. Are they also yours?
Yes, they were at my house when the fire happened. I just brought them back.
Are they commercial buses?
Yes, they are used for commercial purposes. One is for sale and the other is Tokunbo.
What is the next step?
I need help. I am asking God for help.
Do you want the government to help you?
I don’t care about any government help.
Will you file an official complaint with the government?
I will not complain to the government. I have reported the incident to the police station. I have the police report.
Do you have all the documents of the vehicles?
Yes, I have everyone’s documents.
Source: The PUNCH