Lagos State - Two mechanics were severely injured in a live electricity wire incident that occured along Igando/Ikotun road in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State recently.
A live electricity wire fell on the vehicle with Afeez Kareem and friend Prince Onyekachi, 34, both mechanics, inside. While trying to escape, they stepped on the wire and sustained severe burns. Mr. Kareem was burnt from the navel down, while Mr. Onyekachi's right leg and genitalia were affected.
After being rushed to Igando General Hospital, the two were referred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), but the doctors there suggested to move them to Gbagada General Hospital for intensive care.
Mr. Kareem has had two legs amputated in the course of two successive operations; however, he is to undergo more operations. Mr. Onyekachi had his affected limbs wrapped in bandage and plasters by doctors and is waiting for final decisions.
How the accident happened
Lying on his hospital bed, Mr. Kareem narrated how the incident occured.
"I was driving out with my friend who came to visit me when the incident happened. It occurred in the afternoon along Church bus stop on Igando/Ikotun road, not far from our workshop.
"Rain was falling seriously that day. As we were going, I wanted to make a U-turn when the live wire fell and dropped on our vehicle. We quickly tried to escape from the car, but unfortunately, I stepped on the live wire and it began to burn my body from the leg up to my navel.
"It was a man opposite the scene of the incident that called PHCN [Power Holding Company of Nigeria] office to switch off power supply in the area. It was after that was done that people were able to come to our rescue. We were immediately rushed to Igando General Hospital. They referred us to LASUTH almost immediately. When we got to LASUTH, arrangement was made to bring us down to this place.
"As I am talking to you now, I am in deep pains, my lap and buttocks are full of wounds. I cannot sleep or turn my body. I have been lying in one position. I am fed while lying down. I have gone through two operations already. But they said I would still have to go through another set of operations.
"My pain is aggravated by the fact that my family members have nowhere to raise money to foot the bills anymore. They have sold everything we have and have borrowed money everywhere to pay part of the existing bills. I don't even know how my children are faring right now.
"I want to appeal to Nigerians to come to my aid. The operation ought to have been done, but there is no money anywhere to pay for it. My fears are that the situation may be getting worse every day if the operation is not done on time. Already, I have incurred a bill of about N300,000 since I was admitted here. I need urgent help to come out of these excruciating pains. Nigerians, please save me. Help me to come out of these pains."
Mr. Kareem's sister, Mrs. Odunayo Adelaja, said the family has so far spent over a million naira on his treatment, but the bills are growing.
"One of the medical personnel cleaning him up told me that the bones around his buttock were coming to the open. She advised that we have to do all we can to get money as soon as possible for the operations to be carried out so that the problem does not assume a worse dimension.
"I agree with her, but where would I get the money? Our parents are old and have nowhere to raise money. The onus of taking care of him has been on us [the family]. We have spent all we have and have seriously become indebted to many people. Before I left home this morning, some of the people that lent us money came to ask for their money. I have almost become a fugitive because the embarrassment is too much," she said.
Mr. Onyekachi was unable to speak. His 66-year-old father Innocent Onyekachi said son's plight has brought untold sorrow to his life.
"My son's condition has brought a lot of sorrow to my life. His fate is still hanging in the balance.
"Some of the doctors said there is no need to cut the leg, while others said it should be cut. The last statement was that the leg would be cut. We have paid for it and waiting for them to cut it. He was making use of pipe to urinate before now because the incident affected his manhood. They have removed the pipe and he could use wheel chair to go and urinate now.
"We have spent close to a million naira on his treatment so far. We have a bill of over N200,000 in the hospital that we have not paid. I have borrowed money everywhere and do not even know the next place to go and borrow money. Many people are even reluctant to borrow me money because they believe I don't have the capability of repaying it. I am a just a local dry cleaner. I go from house to house to wash cloth for people, so you can imagine what could be my income. I don't have any money.
"Apart from borrowing, friends and church members have also been assisting me. I want to appeal to kind-hearted Nigerians and government in particular to come and help us," he pleaded.
"PHCN is to blame"
One of Mr. Kareems' colleagues in the workshop, Mr. Sunday Afolabi, said the landlord association in the area has also gone around to beg for money to assist him.
"What happened to Afeez and his friend was pathetic. It is by the grace of God that he is still alive today. We were together on that fateful day when the incident occurred. I was where I went to eat when some of our colleagues came to inform me that Afeez was being electrocuted.
"When I got to the place, I saw him and his friend held on a spot beside the car and helplessly being burnt by the live wire. Nobody could go close to them that very moment. We all stood afar and watched the whole thing happen. It was like a dream to me. We were able to rescue them when PHCN cut power supply.
"We, his colleagues have been contributing money among ourselves from time to time to assist him. Even the landlord association in the area has gone around seeking financial help for him and his friend.
"In spite of all these efforts, solution is not yet in sight. The bills are not what the family can foot alone. The family urgently needs assistance from both the government and kind hearted Nigerians to deliver these guys from this problem.
Mr. John Oga, a resident of the area, blamed PHCN for the victims' plight.
"The PHCN is largely responsible for this calamity that befell Afeez and his friend," he said.
"This disaster would not have occurred if they have been maintaining the facilities very well. It is every unfortunatethat they never bothered to support the family financially after the incident that was caused by their facility. The only thing they did was to come and fix the wire. The Federal Government should come in here and assist the family because it was their agency that caused this problem for the victims.
"The incident has dashed their promising future because there is no possibility that they can engage in any meaning venture to make both ends meet even after they would have been discharged from the hospital.
"They should be adequately taken care of and compensated. All the money that the families have spent should be refunded by the government.
"The company that bought PHCN should also do something because they bought the liability of the company along with the assets. If possible, they should be flown abroad for better medical attention. Efforts should be made by the new companies that bought the PHCN to put all the facilities and wires in good shape to avert a reoccurrence of this kind of distasteful incident."
However, an anonymous official of the new power management said the incident occurred before they took over and, thus, could not be held responsible for it.