Felicia David, a petty trader, only left her home 30th October to run her trading activities. Unknown to her, she was going to stay off trade for a while.
The ever busy Lagos-Badagry expressway was as usual a bee hive of activities, while traders, passer byes and motorists, including heavy duty vehicles, battle for space on the congested highway.
Blaring horns, noisy speakers from motor parks, power generating sets, record-selling shops, fumes from power generating sets, vehicle exhaust pipes, pollute the air almost round the clock. Indeed, the Alaba rago area of the Lagos metropolis is one of the busiest.
Felicia and other road users, narrowly escaped death on the fateful day, but she wasn’t as lucky while a truck matched her right foot.
If not for providence, she would have been killed instantly by the moving truck which was immediately halted. The driver, Luke Owolabi, who drove the vehicle belonging to Everrich Integrated Limited, and sypathisers, rushed Felicia to a nearby private hospital; Gods Goal Hospital, where urgent treatment commenced.
Meanwhile, when Felicia was visited in the hospital, her complain, apart from the pain and obvious stoppage of her business, is the neglect she presently suffers.
According to the Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Gabriel Omonaiye, it is a simple case that would only involve money and time. “A large chunk of the flesh was damaged, peeled off, the big toe is gone, there is no life in it again, she needs skin grafting but the sole of the feet is damaged, it peeled off,” Omonaiye said.
Narrating how the accident happened, Felicia David told the press that, “It happened on 30 September. When I went to the market, I went to look for nylon I used to sell my goods, I met this container, before I managed to dodge the Keke Marwa (tricycles) and the container, as I managed to escape the truck, my leg was already under the vehicle, that was it,” she narrated.
On who to take responsibility, Felicia stated that the company who initially made a deposit said, they would pay by installments. “They said they cannot pay at once, but that before long, they would come back and pay again, that was what they said,” she explained, stating further that, “They brought me to this hospital, my brother came and sign then when they called my brother, he wasn’t in town. But before my twin brother could come down, the police already discharged the container and the driver.”
The worrisome aspect of her stay in the hospital according to her is the neglect she has suffered since October 1. “From October 1, till now, I didn’t see any of them again. The company did not come, on the last day I saw them, they asked are we are all Igbos? Knowing we are Igbos, they said we should settle it as Christians and Igbos. I didn’t know they had bad motives. The doctor came and said the money they dropped has finished.” “I called them, they did not respond, now my business is at a standstill. They said I don’t have manner, I said they should leave manner out of it, they have dumped me here for over one month and they are talking about manner. I have been surviving by helps of friends and the hospital, since that time I have been here, I am tired. If they settle the hospital bills, I can leave the hospital. I will not continue here like this, no business, no food, nothing. They called their engineer, they are not doing anything, they have been promising and promising,” she lamented.
Meanwhile, Omonaiye, a medical doctor and graduate of the University of Ilorin, assured that, the case is not an impossible one. “There is nothing about it that cannot be treated, even the skin grafting, it is not an impossible case, though there are some areas like the sole of the feet that are delicate, it is difficult, but not impossible. It will only involve time and money,” he assured.
He stated further that, “According to the twin brother of the patient, the vehicle (involved in the accident) was released based on the promise of continued financial and other support to the patient by the company.”
Omonaiye added that, “Though in the eagerness of the police to release the container vehicle and capitalising on the illiteracy of the patient’s, they left some loose ends, getting the company fully committed before releasing the vehicle. However, the company made a verbal promise to the patient to regularly see her, give her sustenance and pay her bills.”
Talking about the fact that treatment must continue despite that the initial deposit had been exhausted, Omonaiye said, “Furthermore, despite the fact that the deposit had been exhausted long ago, in-spite of the fact that the company’s representatives refused to come to the hospital for weeks and with the elder brother’s absence, treatment, nursing, wound dressing, laboratory tests and other care are still being given to the patient. The routine thing to do is report all accident cases to the transport department of the police.”
The doctor also relayed that, “When the patient was brought to the hospital with the driver, to avoid the likelihood of the driver running away, I phoned him to intimate him of the case. Subsequently, he dispatched an officer to handle the case. The driver was taken to the station and I was also told the vehicle was taken there. So they should have continued to do the needful. We kept him informed about the patient, the response of Engineer Ken, the company’s manager. He (officer) kept reassuring me that the company was going to pay. But an accident had occurred, which (a) if had not been properly treated could have taken her life (b) has left her with a deformity.”
Meanwhile, the press got in touch with the police officers handling the case as well. One of the officers in charge of the case, Mr. Thomas told the media that it was the doctor that involved police. He also stated that the patient’s family is ungrateful. According to him, Felicia is a depressed and drunk person who had ran under the trailer. He also confirmed that the company tried its best in the cause of the treatment.
According to Omonaiye, the payment made so far is N137,000 and bill as at 2nd November stood at N385,500, meaning the actual balance is N248,500 as at the second day of November. Also, the company seem not to have done enough since the last visit by the company’s representative to the patient was on 3rd October 2015 according to Felicia.
The patient’s family also have not been on ground, since they are not seen to be proactive enough on the matter. By all indications, the family has been so deficient in dialogue, while Felicia David languishes in pains of neglect on all sides of the argument.
First published in Newswatch Times
Story by: Dayo Emmanuel and Folake Sokoya